Monday, December 10, 2007

Going away...being fed, coming back and feeding self.

So, I went away for the weekend and disappeared to French Island, near Western Port Bay for a couple of days. This, my friends, involved catching a 10am train from Flinders St, to the end of the Frankston line, changing onto a steam train to get to Stony Point and then catching a ferry to the island and being picked up in a van and escorted to the place where we were staying.
This experience to say the least. It used to be a prison on the island, but is now abandoned and turned into an 'eco' farm and resort. We were given the option of staying in the cells and sleeping in bunks, or, alternatively in the guest house with the 'self-catering' kitchen.
Guess which one we chose? (Oh, and by now, you should realise that the inverted commas are there for a reason...but please, read on.) Of course, being low on time and too lazy to carry things on the train, we think that we will be able to purchase the staples on the island. This definitely wasn't the case, but we still managed to eat better than most the people I know in the city. Of course, this is either because they can't cook, or live off two minute noodles. But, saying that, we still ate crap food while we were there.
The first experience of this was the very sketchy craving for a bag of chips when we arrived at Stony Point. We thought we would be adventurous and eat 'Thai Sweet Chilli' chips. They were neither Thai or Chilli and I swear I tasted of only tomato and sugar. So, in the back of the van, we checked the ingredients and neither crushed up Thai boy nor chilli was present in the foil bag of crap that we purchased...just a whole lot of powdered nothing.
So, at the 'well stocked' general store, we only managed to pick up elbow shaped pasta, aeroguard, weetbix, soy milk and beer. All at a very inflated price of a kidney or two. Damn islands.
We are told that in the non-certified organic (claimed to be organic) 'eco farm' that only seasonal produce is available. This actually translated to lettuce, silverbeet (which is a weed anyways), zucchini, potatoes (which multiply like rabbits fucking in soil), garlic and eggs.
Their guest house can actually fit around 20 people in there, but we were the only two people, so it was good having the whole place to ourselves. Half of the island is actually bush, while it is surrounded by beach. So, after walking into swarms of flies and having me reveal my fear of cows, we get hungry and get our vegetables and ask the couple running the joint for some oil, salt and pepper.
At this point, neither of us had the opportunity to drink coffee, and my companion came up with the food. I played kitchen hand for once and quite enjoyed not having to think. That night, we ate silverbeet pasta and a fritatta. Simple, but it wasn't like we had a choice. Let me just say, oil fixes all. However, i did bring up the question as to why they had chemical salt and powder pepper if their ingredients were oh so good and organic. We could have done with some lemon and chilli, but begger can't be choosers. We saved half the prepared silverbeet and lettuce, as well as some of the potatoes and garlic for the next day. PS. Their knives are shit.
Not having learnt our lesson the first time around, we ordered the breakfast basket ( as weetbix couldn't possibly get us through a whole other day). According to the pamphlet, it would contain the following:
-Organic eggs
-Organic bacon
-Pancake mixture

Instead, this is what we got:
-Golden circle juice boxes; apple and blackcurrant
-6 slices of safeway 9 grain bread
-half a dozen eggs
-4 rashers of organic bacon
- 100g sliced rockmelon
-2 supermarket apples
-2 bananas
-the equivalent of a tablespoon of smooth peanut butter, jam and vegemite.
- The equivalent to 2 serves of Rice bubbles and...MORE WEETBIX

Where the fuck was the coffee??? Who gives the fuck about pancake mixture, we needed our caffeine fix. We're from the city, goddamn it!
So, that morning, we had poached eggs, bacon and toast with the lettuce. In the afternoon, we walked to the beach (giving up on the flesh eating flies in the bush) and eat peanut butter and banana/apple sandwiches. When we got back in the afternoon, we finished off the rest of the pasta and silverbeet, and fried off the extra bacon (I chose not to have any for breakfast) with the pasta. We took the remaining ingredients back with us, but for some reason, the owners tried to take it back from us, even though we paid for it. Once we left, we realised we left beers in the fridge.
On our way back, we caught almost every mode of transport. Changing from a bus to the ferry (during a semi-storm), to a steam train, to another bus, to a train and then on foot. Giving up, we finally made it back into the city where our bodies were begging for coffee. No offense to the barrista, but it was burnt and dirty. I basically skimmed off all the crema and left it there. I should have warned the other, but he felt the need to taste my short black, and had to spit the actual contents back into the demitasse cup. I didn't eat dinner, I was too tired.
Today, after a lack of ingredients, I made zucchini fritters. All my ingredients were actually certified organic except for the ricotta which I purchased from David Jones on my way home from work. Why isn't the market open on Mondays?

Anyways, this is how it went:

-3 medium sized zucchinis (grated)
-1 medium onion (diced)
- 2 cloves of real garlic (diced)
-1 chilli
-basil (shredded)
- 2-3 tablespoons plain flour
-100g ricotta
-2 cubes of marinated goats fetta
-1-2 large organic eggs
I grated the Zucchini and let it drain over the sink with some salt for around an hour and squeezed out the excess moisture. I softened the onion, garlic and chilli for about 15-20 minutes and added the zucchini and turned the heat up to medium. After it cooked and more water evaporated, threw in the basil (because I reall had to fucking use it before it died), added the flour and cooked it off on a high heat to get rid off the raw taste in the flour. Then, I put it all in a bowl and let it cool slightly, broke up the cheeses, seasoned the mixture and mixed it all together with the egg and fried them off in 1 1/2 tablespoon sized fritters. Served with a chutney.

Thank my trusty housemate for the beer during the cooking, eating and washing process.

from the other day

So, this is the fishy fishy.

fennel, bay leaves, cherry tomatoes, olives, white wine...oh, and the fish. covered in foil and baked in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

To the market.

I went yesterday with the intention of just getting the essentials. See, I live a couple of blocks away from the Vic market, so I can afford to do that. However, having recently been paid and only having (as Palahnuik said about 'Jack') condiments in my fridge, I spashed out again.
I was only meant to buy some bread, a dozen eggs, a few vegetables and a cheese to last me a few work lunches, and a couple of dinners.

This was not the case.
The thing is, I really don't eat a lot of bread. But, somehow, I ended up spending 10 dollars on bread. Of course, at the time, I was reasoning with myself that if I buy a seedy sourdough, full and nutty, I will have to counterbalance that with a light loaf. The cheese was only meant to be a filler in the pastry I previously mentioned, however, I came back with buffalo mozzarella and two different types of blue, as well as a cheddar.
For some unknown reason, I also came back with a bag of broadbeans (because they will disappear very shortly for another year, leaving me in beanless tears), peas and a whole array of other seasonal vegetables. This is fine, however, there is only one of me to feed. I wandered into the organics isle and came out with way too many varieties of berries and herbs that I couldn't say no to. Keep in mind that I am a poor student.
So, I thought this was all over, and I would return home with a wonderful bounty...then I walked into the fish and meats isle.
Thank god my 6 and a half years of vegetairanism allowed me to resist purchasing meat. Also, thank the 32 degree weather. Somehow, I couldn't imagine eating heavy meats in the heat, although I wouldn't say no to a beer.

I saw the fish.
There was a wonderful red snapper, staring at me, as if it had just jumped out from the ocean onto the counter and gutted and cleaned itself. Its eye was so clear, I could probably see through to its brain. Then, its mouth gaped open and said, 'Buy me.'

And that is exactly what I did. Now, after a few hours of stewing over my ingredients, I have decided I will bake this fish whole on top of some fennel, cherry tomatoes, a handful of olives and stuff its cavity with oranges. And yes, I will throw a splash of wine in there so it can all steam together...and maybe I'll throw in a fresh bay leaf or two.

Easy. Who wants to come around for dinner?

Pictures will follow, due to my trusty housemate.