Tuesday, December 30, 2014

This Week's Compost

Hi all, last edition for this year J


Looking forward to an equally fertile year ahead.


Diversification practices reduce organic to conventional yield gap


‘We found the novel result that two agricultural diversification practices, multi-cropping and crop rotations, substantially reduce the yield gap (to 9 ± 4% and 8 ± 5%, respectively) when the methods were applied in only organic systems. These promising results, based on robust analysis of a larger meta-dataset, suggest that appropriate investment in agroecological research to improve organic management systems could greatly reduce or eliminate the yield gap for some crops or regions.’


Who’d have thought, eh. The metaphor is unavoidable: diversification good, homogenisation bad.




Out of your noggin? Festive spices and their intoxicating history

In the 19th century, the mind-altering properties of nutmeg were described by Czech physiologist Purkinje in the form of dream imagery and an inordinately long walk to the Royal Theatre in Berlin. More recently nutmeg has been considered something of a prison drug with cannabis-like effects. In his autobiography, African-American human rights activist Malcolm X wrote about his prison experience with nutmeg: a penny matchbox full of nutmeg had the kick of three or four reefers.

Ah yes, the days of nutmeg and other kitchen cupboard highs, I recall them well...or not so well cause, well, I did say ‘highs’.




How Christmas pudding evolved with Australia


‘Having survived a century of popularity despite not being suited to the seasons, the Christmas pudding came to have a more Australian character after 1900. The introduction of water to the desert through the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Scheme allowed New South Wales farmers in the Riverina to produce greater quantities of citrus fruit which was preserved as candied peel, and grapes for drying as raisins and for wine. By the 1950s, Australian port and sherry were the recommended liquors in which to soak the dried fruit for the Christmas pudding ingredients. The pudding may not have originated in Australia but by now its ingredients certainly did.’

A lovely piece of research and writing  - though the Christmas pud will never win over the Sri Lankan Christmas Cake in my household J




Behind the restaurant boom: the urban boom consuming our cities


“They haven’t the money to grow up, so they go out,” suggests the Manchester University anthropologist Sean Carey. They queue for burgers, eat at concept diners and Instagram the results – perhaps it makes an unliveable settlement bearable for a while.’


They all become baristas and/or craft beer brewers in Sydney.




10 Superfoods healthier than kale


Thanks to Helen Campbell for this link. I figured a while ago that kale was more superhype than superfood. I don’t have much truck with the idea of superfoods generally. Still, it’s good to see beet greens being given a good rap, ditto watercress, and I am dying to see lettuce now heralded as a superfood on supermarket shelves – revenge is a dish best eaten ice berged.





Cut price ‘ugly’ supermarket food won’t reduce waste – here’s why


‘In affluent countries like France and Australia, access to cheaper food doesn’t mean less household food waste. What’s more, charging lower prices for ugly fruit and vegetables also neglects the fact that the same labour is required to produce and harvest crops, regardless of their appearance. Thus ugly food helps to perpetuate a food system that undervalues food, in which consumers routinely buy too much and throw away the leftovers.’


I attended a talk last year on food waste and there is a way in which encouraging supermarkets to sell ugly food does indeed reduce waste and that’s at the production end where growers aren’t forced to toss away the ugly fruit in the first place. A couple of weeks ago at my local farmers’ market a grower had a box of white cherries all of which showed an off-putting brown bruise. It was only the result of wind damage, I was told, so I bought some and the ugliness was indeed only skin deep, the pulp being absolutely unspoiled and delicious to boot. Now, I would rather that grower was encouraged to bring the fruit to market and sell it cheap and risk some wastage by the buyer – there wasn’t in my case – than ditch them because one of the Big Two wouldn’t take on the ugly fruit.





Top 10 Australian native foods you need in your kitchen


This buzz is spreading to growers, and more farmers are now trying their hand at growing native foods such as quandong, finger lime, and lemon myrtle. An Australian crop lends a hand in maintaining Australia's botanical diversity and reduces the 'food miles' your dinner has travelled to your plate.’


Not sure that I ‘need’ them in my kitchen, and I reckon claiming that growing these en masse somewhere and trucking them in to a grocer or market is not doing a heap for reducing ‘food miles’, but if I can get quandongs in season and in bulk to make jam, bring it on. Mind you, it’s not that hard to grow a finger lime tree, warrigal greens or samphire, or lemon myrtle in a back yard in Sydney and that would certainly be a better reduced of food miles  - and of course warrigal greens are quite capable of doing a fair bit of food miles on their own.




Paul van Reyk

253 Trafalgar St.

Petersham 2049

PO Box 221

Petersham 2049

Ph: 0419 435 418

Email: pvanreyk@optusnet.com.au



‘"You must never lose your beautiful sense of outraged injustice. alright? Keep it informed and challenge it, but never lose it."


First Dog on the Moon


Monday, December 29, 2014

Test Only

Testing whether blogging by email is working or not.


Paul van Reyk

253 Trafalgar St.

Petersham 2049

PO Box 221

Petersham 2049

Ph: 0419 435 418

Email: pvanreyk@optusnet.com.au



‘"You must never lose your beautiful sense of outraged injustice. alright? Keep it informed and challenge it, but never lose it."


First Dog on the Moon


Thursday, December 25, 2014


I didn't make Christmas cake this year. Instead I made breuder.

This, like frikadells, is a dish of Dutch origin. It's traditionally eaten at Christmas, and in our family it was always eaten with Edam cheese – and still is despite the sneers I get from the non-Burgher elements of the extended family when I put the Edam on the table.

The name is variously spelt broeder (in Hilda Deutrom's Ceylon Daily News Cookery Book), breuder (in my grandmother Ada de la Harpe's cookery book), and brooder (in Chandra Dissanayke's Ceylon Cookery). The Dutch original appears to be Broodtulband named for the fluted 'turban' shaped mould used to make it and it's consistency which is more bread than cake. A recipe I have for it from the Groot Fontein Kookboek (1973) doesn't have dried fruits but has lemon rind, almonds and rum. But Broodtulband is not reserved for festive occasions, according to Dutch friends, and I can't find any suggestion that it should be eaten with Edam. So naturally I wondered about other European cuisines that have something similar and of course recalled German stollen, which ticks most of the boxes except the turban shaped mould. There is also the Veronese pandoro though it is made in a star-shaped mould, doesn't use dried fruits and is dusted with icing sugar, and the Milanese panettone, which has the dried fruit but usually comes in a cupola shaped loaf and is sometimes eaten with mascarpone. Then you have the Polish babka (grandmother) which is the same basic dough baked in a turban mould with no dried fruits but in this case eaten at Easter where it's use of eggs allegedly celebrates the return to the usual diet after Lenten fasting. And finally there is the brioche, sort of a mini version of this form of cake/bread again without the dried fruit and eaten daily if not more often and which it would be mortal sin to accompany with anything more than a cup of strong black coffee or thick chocolate.
The recipe I use is adapted from my gran's cookery book so I have stuck with calling it breuder though Dissanayake's brooder is closer to the original Dutch. I have made it quite successfully with spelt flour, wholemeal and good old white wheat flour. The texture and taste vary; all yummy, though.

500gms plain flour
50 gms butter
baker's yeast
1 tsp sugar
6 egg yolks
250 gms caster sugar
125 gms currants or sultanas or raisins or a mixture of them, or indeed any dried fruit you fancy

1. Make the dough the night before or at least very early on the morning you want to bake the breudher. Take as much yeast as is recommended for your particular yeast for making bread with 500 gms of flour (it can vary so read the packet or ask when you buy it), add the yeast and the sugar to a little hot water to get the yeast started. It will froth slightly. When it's bubbling happily, add this to the flour and mix in well. Now slowly add water and keep mixing until you have a lump of dough that lifts easily out of the bowl or off the board. Knead it for 5 - 10 minutes. Put it in a bowl, cover the bowl with a damp tea-towel and leave it in a warm place to rise overnight.

2. The next day, take the dough and add to it the butter, egg yolks and sugar. Add the first three yolks separately and mix in well each time. Then add the others also one at a time alternating with dollops of the caster sugar till it is all used up. What you will have now is a very thick wet doughy batter.

3. Butter a turban mould. Put a good sprinkle of whatever dried fruit you are using on the bottom. Squish some dried fruit against the sides of the mould, too. Pour in the batter. Sprinkle more of the dried fruit on top of the batter. If you like, and I do, you can mix some dried fruits into the batter, too.

4. Leave this in a warm place, the mould covered with a damp cloth, for 1 or 2 hours until it rises again (it won't rise as much as the dough did overnight).

5. Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to very hot – around 220C.

6. When the dough has risen the second time, put the mould in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Check at that stage that the brooder is cooked by poking a bamboo skewer or similar into the dough. If it comes out clean, your brooder is ready. If it doesn't, give the brooder 10 – 15 minutes more. Hint: Putting some baking/greaseproof/brown paper on the top will reduce the likelihood of the dried fruit burning.

7. When it's cooked, take it out of the oven and leave it to cool in the mould. You should then be able to give the mould a good thump and have the brooder come cleanly out of it.

Cut the slices on the thick side, butter well and whack a slick of edam or cheddar on.

Monday, December 15, 2014

This week's compost

I am hugely thrilled that in this ish of Compost we have several items contributed by youse out there. I would love more as making this a space to share ideas, resources, stories like those in this ish is very much what I have hoped the newsletter would develop into over time.

Bring on the debate J

From Barbara Santich. Any takers?

After a holiday in NSW I’ve come up with a theory: The rissole sandwich (once spotted on a menu in one of those cheap caf├ęs at Central, on the way to Eddy Av) and rissole roll (at a takeaway at Wauchope) are not only definitively Australian but particular to NSW. Would you like to run this in your Compost – there might be others with similar evidence. Or the contrary! ‘

Sydney Rock Oysters
This lovely food origin story courtesy of Ross Kelly.

Some years ago, while studying a TAFE course on aboriginal heritage I met an aboriginal man, named Dave Pross. Dave lives towards Terrigal, not far from Patonga.  He gave me this story about the origin of the Sydney Rock Oyster

The Darkjinjung word for Oyster is Patanga, but some call it Potonga.  The Darkinjung story is about how Shark got his small eyes and fin and why oysters live on rocks.
This story comes from the alcatringa time when all animals had limbs.

Shark was in the shallow part of the bay rushing backwards and forwards chasing fish hoping to catch some for his meal, and did not notice in the bushes the Patanga brothers were watching him.  Shark caught a fish and walked out of the water to place it in the sand for later, then going back into the water to hunt for more. His second attempt was no good the fish had gone.  So he went back to cook the fish he had caught earlier, but while he was in the water the Patangas had stolen his fish and hid it in the bush. Shark looked around for his fish but could not see it, all he could see was the two Patangas sitting near the bushes, he walked over to them and asked have you seen my fish, they said what fish, you know very well said shark you two are the only people on the beach, the Patangas held up their arms and shrugged, Shark walked away then turned and said if you took my fish you will be sorry.

The Patangas gathered some wood to light a fire, Patangas being lazy the did not go far for the wood so the wood they gathered was a special type that when you burnt it, it made glue.  The Patangas cooked fish and then ate it, after this one Patanga said to his brother that was then best meal, the brother replied yes, any meal you do not have to catch is the best, and they just burst out laughing, being lazy they then did not get rid of the remains of the fish, they just rolled over near the fire and went to sleep. 

The next morning the Patangas were woken by Shark kicking them, and he said you two ate my fish, they replied no we did not, Shark pointed at the remains and said liars, kicking them again. The eldest Patanga jumped up as Shark was kicking the other brother, and he grabbed Shark and they fell into the hot sand near the fire, as they were rolling around, the two Patangas rushed at him trying to knock him down again, Shark side stepped and they fell into the ashes of the fire, and as they tried to get out Shark pushed them back in, getting white ash all over them.  
Shark started to walk away and the Patangas got out of the ashes, then the eldest Patanga picked up his boomerang, threw it at Shark hitting him in the middle of the back, Shark screamed out, turned and picked up a big waddy then rushed to the Patangas.  He beat them with the waddy hard they got smaller and smaller.  He then picked them up and tossed them in the water, and they landed on the rocks in the water.
So now Shark has small eyes because of the hot sand and a fin on his back - the boomerang, and because the Patangas were lazy and used special wood they were covered in glue from the ashes and are now stuck on the rocks.

Happy Halal

From John Newtown as a follow on to last Compost’s posting:

‘A  interesting sidelight to the Halal nonsense. On  recent trip to Nyngan we visited the local abattoir, KJ Halal. Below an excerpt from  my diary about the tripo: ‘Next stop the abattoir at Nyngan owned by Pakistani brothers Jarvid and Tariq. Jarvid (or maybe it’s Javid) told us he’d arrived in Australia on a foreign worker’s permit and a lie. He told them he was a Halal slaughterman, but had never worked as a slaughterman. He got a job in Oberon, got paid lousy money and when he asked for a raise his boss said “you’re learning’” A little later he asked for a raise only to be told he was still learning. “When will I finish learning?” he asked. “Never” said the boss, but gave him a raise anyway. Now after working as a slaughterman all around the country, he owns his own abattoir, and is about to expand. Tariq appears to be the elder statesman, Javid the ideas man: dreamer and schemer set up. On  being asked about being a Halal slaughterman, Javid said “You have to be a true Muslim, you can’t go out boozing and rooting women and do the job, you have to be a fair dinkum Muslim.”’

Feed Your Mind Film Your Planet

Thanks to Colin S for the link to this bijou project. There are some videos up already. I’m giving it a go and I reckon some of you out there might like to also or know someone who does.

Also from John Newton, a link to an excellent article about the appropriation of food for political purposes. It sparked a lively discussion among some of us on whether there were other situations in which the same has happened. Examples like the rivalry between Australian and New Zealand foodies on the origin of the pavlova, or Franco advocating paella as a unifying dish in Spain or the choosing of pad Thai as the national dish via a PM sponsored competition were all mentioned but fall short of what’s described in the article. Anyone else have any examples?

3D food printing
I have been following a thread on 3D food printing in the food-culture Google Group of the American Society for Food Studies (I think that’s the correct name)  and am gobsmacked (an appropriate foodie expression) at what is happening in this area.

Just a couple of quick links for you that have set my head buzzing and about which I have more questions than answers. The Natural Machines one in particular has me flabbergasted as to wha?!!!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

This week's compost

 Pear, apple, chili cheese and honey liqueur from the weekly market in Orvieto

Conflict Kitchen

This project is quite extraordinary as is the current attacks on it because its current iteration is on Palestine as per this link courtesy of Alice P Julier and the food-culture group of the American Society for Food Studies to which I subscribe.

Happily I reckon it wouldn’t raise a whisper of controversy in Aus.

Sunbeam highlight competitive nature of cooking in new campaign from The Works

 A different kind of conflict kitchen.

Halal products may be finding Islamist extremism, claims Nationals MP
‘Christensen says there’s no way to know where the funds from halal-certified goods end up. He said it was “outrageous” his grocery dollars were going towards a “religious tax” – listing halal-approved products such as Vegemite, Corn Flakes and Freddo frogs.’
I’m way more worried about there his grocery dollars are going in his diet.

The Paeleolithic diet and the unprovable links to our past
 ‘Even among arctic people such the as Inuit whose diet was entirely animal foods at certain times, geneticists have failed to find any mutations enhancing people’s capacity to survive on such an extreme diet.
Research from anthropology, nutritional science, genetics and even psychology now also shows that our food preferences are partly determined in utero and are mostly established during childhood from cultural preferences within our environment. The picture is rapidly emerging that genetics play a pretty minor role in determining the specifics of our diet. Our physical and cultural environment mostly determines what we eat.’

Hey, I’ve watched the Flintstones and I KNOW that Fred liked nothing better than a huge chunk of mastodon steak after a hard day’s work at the gravel pit, with no green stuff, while Wilma merely picked at a salad to keep that hourglass figure.

Honey you sprayed the kids
I hope you can view this = it’s a triffic little animation on bees.

Barley was key to lofty Tibetan life
New Scientist 29 November 2014 reports that a shift to farming barley, which is frost resistant, may have enable farming communities which had had an intermittent presence on the Tibetan Plateau as long as 20,000 years ago to make the shift to permanent occupation at heights above 2.5 kilometres by around 3600 years ago. It’s posited that barley, originally from the Middle East, came to these communities post the opening up around 4500 years ago of what we now call the Silk Road, the vast trade route across Asia.
Nice one barley J
Vale Pie Face, gone to join Australia’s other fallen fast food chains
‘At any rate, the honeymoon is over and Pie Face looks set to join the long list of food chains Australia has fallen out of love with. Some of them are still around, but like the lyrics to Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn, they’re cold and they’re ashamed, lying naked on the floor.’
I’d love to think it’s because Aussies are getting their taste buds back, but that would be too much to credit I suspect.

Business and entrepreneurs seize opportunities in rise of veganism
‘David Benzaquen, CEO of PlantBased Solutions, a US-based marketing agency, credits the rise of private investors putting millions into food start-ups, and the growing consumer base of “flexitarians” as real drivers for change in the US market. “Consumers being both more aware of big animal agriculture, its impact on the environment and their own health, as well as campaigns such as Meatless Mondays, are key contributing factors to more people trying plant-based foods”
That word entrepreneur...look out for the $40 vegan burger coming soon to a high end restaurant near you. The ridiculous thing is of course that vegans can eat very very well indeed cheaply across a range of cuisines right now and indeed always have been. Indeed, the larger proportion of the world, I reckon, continues to be vegan...but of course they don’t live in Notting Hill or Newtown so they count in this ‘trend’.