I’ve joined the Environment Committee at my daughter’s primary school. I can not help myself. When it comes to educating children about the environment, our impact on it and how we can help to reduce our pressure on the planet, I want to be invloved. I love seeing their little minds explode when you try to explain where an egg comes from, why worms and bees are so important and why it’s important to add cow poo to the soil to make plants grow. We aren’t full blown self-sufficient types at home. We do a bit of recycling, grow some vegies, compost, put on a jumper instead of the heater, turn off lights and power points when not in use etcetera (I am still working on remembering to take our reusable bags to the shops…*must remember*). It will be so beneficial to kids, teachers and families to have ideas like this reinforced at school.
Last Thursday I had myself a food-love adventure in Sydney. The motivation was the Sydney Writers Festival. I was anticipating a war of words between US chef, author and host of TV show No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain and acerbic UK food critic AA Gill via a ‘moderated’ (Tony Bilson) discussion at Sydney Town Hall in the evening. To make the most of my visit, I made a trip beforehand to the perpetual cook’s favourite Herbie’s Spices in Rozelle, to stock up on some hard-to-find ingredients. An inadvertent meal at newly unbolted underground diner, The Dip, rounded out the night nicely before I headed home.
Brrrr! The chill factor is extreme for this time of the year don’t you think? I don’t know about you, but autumn seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. I’m into winter comfort food in a big way already, with lots of recipes popping into my head that involve slow cooking on the stove top or a bit of spice to heat us up from the inside out.
Out of pure ignorance, I was once completely terrified of all foods hot. If there was the slightest hint of chilli I’d got for another item on the menu. Heat in food is just something I didn’t grow up with and with only movie references to practical jokes involving chilli as my reference; I came to the conclusion that it was to be avoided at all costs. Worse, I equated anything with spice or pepper to be ‘hot’ and as such any foods including such items were blacklisted.
Over time, I started to get an inkling that I was missing out. There were just so many delicious-smelling meals I’d refuse all because of an unsubstantiated fear. With the encouragement of friends, I started on working on overcoming my trepidation by introducing some not-so-hot foods, one of which was a mild laksa. It was love at first slurp.
Do you ever wonder what was filling the supermarket shelves before olive oil came along? It’s not been that long since the cooking oil of choice was limited to sunflower or vegetable. Now the ubiquitous extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), virgin olive oil, light olive oil, pure olive oil and the boutique varieties from smaller producers at specialty shops and markets has become the go-to oil for cooking and dressing in Australian kitchens.
A funny thing happened a couple of weeks ago. I received a message from a Twitter friend who had won a competition through our local ABC radio station to take 10 friends to the Hunter Valley for a day of feasting… and I was one of the 10 names she put forward. Hells bells! Before I knew it I was on a road trip to culinary heaven with some people I’d never met before (in real life).