Food for thought

I’ve never thought I would make a good restaurant reviewer, despite the fact that I eat out quite a bit. That’s because I’m too busy eating. And reading or playing with my iPad if I’m on my own, or drinking and acting like a bit of a noisy dickhead when I’m with my friends.

Most times however it’s just my husband and me. We tend to frequent the same places, not because we lack any sense of adventure, but because we know we are guaranteed good food and excellent service.

After all, we’re paying for this.

So yesterday, on day one of our Christmas holidays at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast, we ventured out the mall. Perhaps that was our first mistake.

Now I love the mall in Broadbeach. Mainly because it’s where John Farnham filmed his “Two Strong Hearts” film clip, circa 1988, at the height of his mullet. Regular readers know that I would give up my second born for John Farnham. Mercifully I only have one child. And in 2012 it is no longer a requirement to sacrifice your child, no matter what you owe.

Feeling festive and full of the excitement that is a Gold Coast Christmas, we knew seafood was on the cards. [Read more…]

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Queensland on a plate

My lovelies, this is the recipe for the yummy prawn, mango and avocado salad I made last weekend. I pretty much made it up in my head, mixing together a few similar recipes and using  a dressing from FashionFoodFatale‘s Jane Walsh. Unfortunately, I don’t really have quantities for the dressing,  but you know what you like and just keep tasting it until it suits you.

The Salad:

Prawns (I used 1.5kg medium/large)
Mango x 3 cut into bite sized cubes
Avocado x 2 cut into bite sized cubes
Rocket (or green leaf salad mix) heaps
Lebanese cucumber sliced thinly
Red onion sliced thinly
Red chilli x 1 (seeds optional)
Fresh Coriander – heaps
Fresh Mint  – heaps
Rice stick noodles – half a packet

The Dressing:

Coconut milk or lite coconut milk (half a can)
Little bit of green curry paste
Kaffir lime leaves chopped really finely (6-7)
Lime juice (half a lime)
Lime zest (half a lime)
Red chilli (remove seeds if you wish)
Brown sugar (tablespoon or so) or you can use palm sugar
Fish sauce (a good shake)

The Method: 

Put the noodles in a bowl of boiling water, leave for five minutes, then rinse under cold water, set aside in colander to drain.

Dressing: Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar (remember to keep tasting), shake well, put in the fridge for a few hours, shaking it every 30 minutes. When getting ready to serve, strain it, and serve in a jug on the side.

Salad: Get a massive platter (this looks fabulous on a platter, instead of a bowl). Starting with the green leaves, add all ingredients (including the noodles and the herbs) in a layer. Do this twice. Then give it a bit of a mix up using some tongs. Serve with dressing on the side, and let guests add their own dressing.

Will keep for a day or two in the fridge, so will the dressing.

PS: the other thing I served was dates – I made a slice in a fresh date, pulled out the seed, popped in a piece of Danish feta, wrapped the date in really thinly sliced prosciutto and grilled it for about 5 minutes on a medium heat. Superb!! 

I hope you enjoy!
Love Bron xo

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Fast food fright

Growing up in the 1970s, my lunch was a squashed Vegemite sandwich, an apple, and a cordial bottle. I got tuckshop every second Friday, and bought a cream bun, a sausage roll and a Sunnyboy iceblock (remember those? They were in those little frozen pyramid shapes and you sucked all the flavour out?)

Breakfast was porridge, boiled eggs, toast and a cup of Bushells tea. Dinner was rissoles, sausages or chops with mashed potatoes and some token green. Dessert, weekends only, was ice cream.

That was it.

Fast food? I think there may have been a pizza joint about three suburbs along, and some rogue Chinese establishment that smelled suspiciously like somebody had died in there the week before and was still decomposing in a wok.

My mum was a midwife, so sometimes she’d have to work Saturday nights. We loved those nights. Dad would ring up and order pizza and my brothers and I would pile into the Falcon 500 to pick it up. We had two choices: supreme or ham and pineapple. Of course we only ordered ham and pineapple. Supreme was waaaay to avant-garde in the 70s. Salami? Mushrooms? Get out! I’m not eating that!

Fast forward 30 years. I see people starting their day with a can of Red Bull and a take-away double shot latte. And these are the 15 year-olds. The 30 year-olds are a bit more hard-core. They skip the latte in favour of a V-shot chaser. They do the lattes later.

Some people drink so much coffee their eyes stay open when they sneeze. They can type 60 words a minute with their feet. They channel surf faster without the remote.

Now it’s common to eat Nandos, Aportos, KFC, McDonalds. To buy pre-packaged pasta and prepared sauces, then chuck it all in the microwave on high for three minutes while you grab your 3rd can of Diet Coke. Frozen dinners, frozen spring rolls, frozen meat pies. Packets of chips, packets of biscuits, packets of fat.

Just personally, I think fast food is the nutritional equivalent of pornography.

No need to make breakfast at home! Grab a bacon and egg muffin or a savoury bread roll on your way to the office. Please, at lunch time come and buy our salad. Salad, my arse. If you look closely enough, you may spot a lettuce leaf drowning forlornly in some tangy creamy dressing. For dinner, shovel up some half-price Chinese from the all-you-can-eat buffet in the food court. I’m sure this food is still ok, even though it has been sitting under the lamps since 7am.

The factors that make fast food so popular still seem to be powerful enough to make the majority of the population ignore the obvious risks of poor nutrition and weight problems. Fast food is easily available, relatively cheap, most people find it tasty and filling and it can be purchased fast.

Although, sometimes I think it’s called “fast” food because you’re supposed to eat it really fast. Otherwise, you might actually taste it.
According to a recent article I just read on nutrition, they said eating right doesn’t have to be complicated. Nutritionists say there is a simple way to tell if you’re eating right. Colours. Fill your plates with bright colours, it chorused. Greens, reds, yellows.

A friend of mine says she does that every day, by eating an entire packet of M&M’s.

The big problem with “fast” food is that it slows down when it hits your stomach. And it just parks there and lets the fat have time to get off and apply for citizenship.

Personally, I can’t do it. I can’t even use a jar of spaghetti sauce. Sometimes I even struggle with tinned tomatoes. I’m not sure these days whether the fresh fruit and vegies I buy are in fact fresh fruit and vegies, or if they’ve been sprayed with nitrogen or some other chemical and stored in the back of a shed in Stanthorpe since 2004.

1970s food, for all its scary apricot chicken and beef Wellington carry on, was made the way nature intended food to be made. From scratch. In those days, milk lasted three or four days. Now, I can buy milk with a two-week fridge life. So exactly how much of the white liquid in that carton is milk from the cow, and how much is additives and preservative crap?

I think it would be nice if the government mob who monitor warnings about toxic substances just gave me the names of one or two things that are still safe to eat.

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The week I decided to diet

Monday: The gig is up. Today is the day. I have beaten the hideous smoking beast into a suppurating mess. Now it is time to do the same to the mess that is my thighs. I’ve exceeded the feed limit too often.The reasons I know this are:

1) Yesterday, for breakfast, I had a steak, cheese and bacon pie with tomato sauce and a jam and cream donut. One of those long ones, with the cinnamon sugar, like you got from the tuckshop in primary school. Then appallingly, whilst grocery shopping later that day, I bought some brie, rocket dip and rice crackers and started eating them in my car while driving home. No, there was no knife cutting that brie. Just my teeth sinking into the soft cheese. No, there was no scoop for that dip. Just my tongue licking it straight from the tub. I felt alternately like George Costanza (Seinfeld) and Miranda Hobbes (Sex and the City) who will be remembered for perpetuity for happily consuming food that they’d retrieved from their bin.

2) In desperation, and whilst on aforementioned grocery shopping trip, I purchased ten frozen Weight Watchers meals. Even though the taste of them is identical to eating crumbled polystyrene drenched in home-brand laundry liquid, , it will only add five points per serve to my thighs.

3) Since quitting smoking, I have been suffering from a self-diagnosed ailment I’ve identified as Post Idiomatic Smoking Stress Emergence Disorder (PISSED). Treatment for this illness is to attain an average daily consumption of one 750ml bottle of wine (red, white or combination). Now, I say average, because I might skip my medication on a Tuesday, only take half of it on a Wednesday or a Thursday but think nothing of having a triple dose on a Friday. So it averages out.

4) I injured my foot whilst suffering from PISSED and hence have not worn shoes for a few weeks, let alone heels. Being unable to wear heels means I can’t hide a spare 5kg or so by elongating my body. No longer do people look at my arse as I go past because it looks great in heels. They look at it because they are wondering where I could possibly have misplaced my “wide load” sign. And the safety vehicle that accompanies such signage.

5) I paid a nutritionist $220 to devise a 12-week weight loss plan. She gave me a diet and some motivation, and made an appointment for the following week. I did nothing. Nothing at all. She rings me all the time. I screen her.

I arrived at work with a new determination and a home made salad. But the woman who leaves home to set the world on fire often needs to return home for some matches. My first mistake of the day was announcing to one and all via mass email that I was going to diet. This led to one and all being keen to know what I felt would be the secret to my success. Too lengthy to discuss via email, I deduced, so instead opted to gather my clan at my fave Italian joint, Pane e Vino, simply because everyone knew where it was.

It seemed a shame then not to have the linguine with chicken, spinach leaves, semi-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and a rosette sugo with a few glasses of wine. Gave it all away that night and had two slices of inch-thick fruit toast with lemon spread. Oh, and finished off that bottle of red from the weekend.

It’s only Monday. And frankly my dears I don’t give a damn. After all, tomorrow is another day. Cheers Scarlet.

Tuesday: It’s freezing! I’ve been this cold in Europe, but never in BrisVegas. Usually we spend winter wearing our summer clothes with a cardigan. Perhaps climate change is an international conspiracy to get us to pay more tax. Who wants to eat bloody salad when it’s 11 degrees!

But nobody wanted to do lunch. Got a few boring responses like “I’ve got work to do” and “It’s too cold to go out”. Someone even had the temerity to say “But we just did lunch yesterday”. Interestingly no one mentioned that I was supposed to be dieting. Either my friends are very diplomatic or they know I’m full of shit.

So I ate yesterday’s salad. How God must have laughed when He decided to make alfalfa non-fattening. Felt forced to pick up a toasted ham and cheese croissant on my way home, simply to alleviate my misery. And annoy God.

Wednesday: Nobody told me it was Alison’s birthday. She’s part of my team, but located on another floor. She was delighted when I brought her a couple of Shingle Inn cakes to celebrate. So was everybody else. The passionfruit one is so my favourite. I love birthdays.

Thursday: Meetings all morning at our regional premises. The secretary out there is a smart cookie. She rejects the Arnott’s Family Assorted and gets these proper heavy chewy chocolate biscuits from this Bavarian bakery. You know, with oats and golden syrup and macadamias and white chocolate bits. I’ve always liked her.

The meetings were a bit rough. In this place, if you walk on water people will tell you it’s only because you don’t know how to swim. We kept our wits about us; fairly challenging with those yummy biscuits on the table.


But we really needed a spot of team bonding after that. The Boathouse restaurant at the Regatta Hotel wasn’t too busy and had all its gas heaters working. Moroccan chicken skewers with an extra serve of peanut sauce, accompanied by a bottle or three of an Ingoldby Shiraz. It’s a good thing that I’d thought this might happen. Which is why I didn’t bother getting up ten minutes earlier this morning to make a salad and select a Weight Watchers meal.

Friday: Goodness me, is it Friday already? A ridiculous day to start a diet. Fluffed about at my desk for a while, then got on the net and looked up important things like memorable quotes from Sex and the City and recipes for chocolate cup cakes. And what’s a Friday without a long lunch?

Saturday: Grocery shopping today. I don’t know why I’ve written down that I need ten frozen Weight Watchers meals. There’s still seven in my freezer …

How can that be? I’ve been on a diet!

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Why I will never be size 8

 

If the recipe says “50g butter”, I put in 250g of butter. Sometimes more. Never less. Never the amount it tells me too. And it is always that yummy full-fat butter that comes in a block, not that watery, oily make-believe stuff they try and palm off as butter. “I can’t believe it’s not butter,” they advertise. “Really?” I think. “I bloody well can.”

It can be 5.10pm, and my spin class starts in five minutes, and I’m standing at the door of the gym, wearing ugly gym clothes, which consist of some shorts I once painted the house in, a sports bra with a broken hook, and a Yankees baseball cap because I managed to buy one in pink, and a friend can walk by and say “Hey Bron, you want to go for a drink?” and next thing the only spinning I’m doing is on my heel, and off to that pub.

There are two types of people in this world: those who order pasta with a tomato-based sauce, and those who order pasta with a cream-based sauce. I’m in category two. Usually I add lots of bacon, olives, mushrooms and a solid helping of cheese. In addition to some garlic bread, several glasses of Pinot Gris and a latte.

Sometimes, I am very energetic and walk home from work. Sometimes, I think I am very energetic and start to walk home from work, and then I realise I’m not energetic at all, and then I get on the next bus.

You think Nigella can pick? Or those Two Fat Ladies? I buy a simple bbq chook for lunch, and as I’m cutting it up, I’m picking at bits of crispy fat chicken skin, and the fleshy bit of the thigh. I’ve eaten so much that I really don’t need any lunch. But I have lunch anyway. It would seem wrong to, especially after I’ve gone to all that trouble to cut up the chicken.

I have an ungrateful stomach, I am sure. No matter what it had yesterday, it wants more today.

 

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