I'm not sure anyone at all will read this, given the fact that I've been absent for so long. Illness and catching up on work have definitely got in my ... The post Still feeding me appeared first on smartfoodmama.


Still feeding me and more...

Still feeding me

I’m not sure anyone at all will read this, given the fact that I’ve been absent for so long. Illness and catching up on work have definitely got in my way. Travel tales will have to wait. Then there’s dealing with loss. I recently travelled to Sydney for Mum’s consecration. Jewish mourners wait a year before the headstone goes on the grave, though it can be a shorter period. It gives folks the chance to recover form their grief and join together to celebrate the life of their loved one.

Like any secular Jewish family the food was the most important thing. I spent the previous evening making Mum’s sausage rolls. Rolling out the pastry in a kitchen no bigger than my Mum’s tiny kitchen with the radio blaring maudlin hits from the 70s. I got a little reflective. Observant Jewish women bake challah bread on Fridays and the kneading and rolling provides the rhythm for serious meditation. Mum never baked challah though it was always on the Shabbath table warm from the oven.

My mother spent the war years ‘on the land’ as she put it.  Here she is pretty as picture growing food for the nation. Of course I have been watching Home fires.

My paternal Grandmother is known to have said “It just isn’t a simcha (celebration) without smoked salmon”. And there was smoked salmon. But it wasn’t a party without Mum’s sausage rolls, so I made them. Lisa baked the richest chocolate brownies I have ever encountered and Sam continued her “I am Zumbo” trajectory with a chocolate and hazelnut cake as big as the centrepoint tower. Well retro theme. And it tasted as good as it looked. I even learned how you slice these darlings, thank you Shirley Smith!


Of course food is at the centre of most celebrations and certainly for Jewish families, and Chinese, Italian, Greek…and on it goes. But food is crucial here because of who Sheila was. She was an archetypal Jewish mother who cooked Shabbath dinner every Friday night. Prayers were minimal but the table heaved with favourite dishes of her children and then grandchildren. Mac cheese and soya Chicken? Why not?

I’ve written a great deal about the way grandmother’s go on feeding their families after their demise .. family recipes? Hence the demand for her sausage rolls, her matzo balls and more. But in my garden I have a miracle, a final gift from Mum. In my last house we had a massive mulberry tree I was sorry to leave. A baby tree had grown next to it and Mum had potted it. I took that one with me when we moved and after an extended period of neglect I finall planted it. It grew and grew as trees do and each year more berries turned up on it. But they were all small. This year the tree is full of mulberries and they are properly sized and sweet, though just beginning. I like to think it’s the Consecration miracle but dynamic lifter should take more credit.

My Mum is still feeding me.

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A Hungry Dog

This may seem an odd post as I’m heading off to Europe – but fabulous food pics are promised.

So finally I’m back … anybody there? I could make all sorts of excuses for my tardiness, like the crazy workload at semester’s end or the loss of my beautiful dog Tevye. In truth the dog’s death has thrown me entirely off course.

So how does this relate to food? How do our pets not relate to food? It’s what binds them to us, along with a place by the fire. In the case of dogs I do believe the deal is we feed them and they repel danger, as best they can. Tevye was a big dog and as long as no-one knew what a gentle loving soul he was, I knew I was always safe as long as he was around. He was also a hungry dog. I say this because I’ve been dog sitting for my daughter who is dog-sitting … you know how it goes! And this dog is not a hungry dog, in fact he seems disinterested in food which is a novel experience for me.

The worst place to be after losing a dog is in the kitchen. Tevye loved carrots. I learned about this from dear friend Emma who gives these to her dog Charlie for a treat. To a dog’s palate they must taste very sweet. Tevye loved his carrots and the faintest sound of the peeler was enough to get him into the kitchen, sometimes to be disappointed if I was peeling potatoes or zucchinis.

He died on a Friday and I’m not sure how I survived that weekend, I do remember it involved getting out of the house. By Monday I felt that it was time to cook a meal. I wanted to make a casserole. I braced myself, in fact I willed myself to peel a carrot. But how foolish did I feel looking down at that tear-stained cutting board.

Then there’s the pantry, which was the holy grail of dog biscuits and other treats. As if it were Aladdin’s cave he would spend hours staring through the glass panelled door – willing it to “open sesame”.

I’m okay with peeling carrots now, but can no longer cut the crusts off my toast. I don’t much like the crust, Tev loved it and if it had a hint of vegemite all the better. It was a highlight of his Uncles’ visits.

So I was coping better day by day. And then my daughter became ill and I made a batch of chicken soup. Chicken is generally still difficult because Tevye absolutely loved the cartilage from the drumstick and the fatty bits of skin I try not to eat. But a pot of chicken soup requires a chicken, and carrots. So the next day meant a mass of delicious scraps, devoid of much nutrition after half a day’s cooking, but filling for my hairy stomach on legs. I would happily remove the flesh from the bones and add it to his dry food.

But now there’s no Tevye to eat it. I’m not sure about bones in the compost so in the bin it went, while I gently wept.

I do love the book Stephanie’s Alexander’s Cook’s Companion. But it will never replace my canine companion. I know that one day another canine will keep me company in my kitchen, but it will be a while. “Too soon” as the young’uns say.

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It’s a good line!

If like me, you are still a sucker for cooking programs but are fed up with the current offerings – try new SBS offering, The Chefs’ Line. http://www.sbs.com.au/food/programs/the-chefs-line

I can’t bear the thought of the impending season of Master Chef – the preview with underage gold egg producer is enough to put me off. All those gels, smoke and foams are enough to make me want to watch the Bachelorette.

Is there anyone else out there who watches cooking programs because they like to see food being cooked or want to learn something? Okay – confession, I’ve been watching MKR, even though the program rarely offers the drama suggested by their enticing promos. There’s only so much manipulation viewers can bear. After all how does an experienced Asian cook not put the lid on the rice cooker properly? And all those sudden temperature drops in the oven…almost as tedious as Master Chef’s miracle finishes. You know, the way 12 meals get plated in 30 seconds and wasn’t that tense and exciting? And why is WA’s own arsehole Josh still there when he and Amy seemed to lose in their elimination? Duh, how else would they drum up viewers for their turn to cook tonight? Save yourself the disappointment.

The Chef’s Line is hosted by chef Dan Hong. Who is Dan Hong? King of Sydney’s restaurant scene is who. He’s the guy setting up all those great eateries Justin Hemmes keeps coming up with.

Think: the sublime Mr Wong. He’s joined by bush tucker maestro Mark Olive. Not to mention food writer Melissa Leong and Maeve O’Meara of Food Safari fame.

Yes, there’s still a competition but we see five skilled ethnic cooks up against a pro from the kitchen of a top ethnic restaurant. Ready Steady Cook? Not at all. All class and you will see real folks cooking real food.

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The Emperor has new clothes


I’ve been a regular at the Emperor’s kitchen in Leeming for years –none of the hassle of getting parking in Northbridge and Yum Cha offerings which are as good as most. But we particularly loved the cheerful and attentive owner who was always there. But now he’s gone – I hope he is putting his feet up and enjoying a well-deserved retirement.

I’m told the new owner is a young mainland Chinese gentleman. The old place has been tarted up and looks much more inviting.

But I was never concerned about the décor, it was only ever about the food and they have kept up the old menu – all of my favourites: fat prawn dumplings, crispy squid, stuffed tofu and crunchy kai-lan.. All just as good.

IMG_2278But these little prawn dumplings are new and simply divine.

I love it when things change and stay the same.


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This excellent piece from the Guardian is the tip of the iceberg and it’s such a shame so little has changed since I was a gel.


This excellent piece from the guardian is the tip of the iceberg and it’s such a shame so little has changed since I was a gel. I was a waitress for many years, in a planet far away. My first ever job was at “Grandfather’s Moustache” – what seemed in those days to be a fabulous Italian restaurant run by Greeks. After 5 weeks I got the sack – first and last time. Surprisingly, I wasn’t sacked for slapping the chef and co-owner every time he groped my 17 year-old arse. And I wasn’t sacked for the free food and drink I provided for my friends. I was sacked for ringing up an hour before my shift to call in sick. It was a good lesson to learn early on.

Sexual harassment was a very regular occurrence. I later worked in a restaurant where the signature dish was turkey breast – oh how original were the gibes. I even worked temporarily in a disco – yes, smartfoodmama is senior! This, I should add has earned me considerable cred with my students. Go figure: “yes, there was a mirror ball, yes the dance-floor lit up…”. Moving through the crowds I was once grabbed Trump style. I know I sent the cretin flying with my one free hand and the bouncers were happy to finish the job. In truth I was treated more respectfully by the merry band of gangsters running the place then by so-called hospitality professionals in years to come. I’ll always cherish this comment from the owner (read in heavy Balkan accent) “I like you, you good gel, you work with your brayn not your bum”.

Story three: Desperate for work I did a day’s trial in a large commercial seafood house of horror. Wandering in to the kitchen the very first comment from the chef to a waitress picking up a plate was: ”That’s not your meal you stupid f’ing c”. I worked through lunch but didn’t come back for the second shift.

There are many aspects of life in 2016/17 which should have been done away with back then, when I was a gel. That’s why I still call myself a feminist – yes “we’ve come a long way baby” – some of the boys need to catch up.


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