Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Date Scones You Probably Wouldn't Take on a Date

Yes, so predictably after four or five posts I got bored of having a blog. But I am back. This is not the umbrella rant I've been planning; it is scones!
Date scones were a childhood staple and so in my mind scones almost always = date scones.
As usual my "recipe" is vague, at best, due to my inability to ever perfectly replicate any cooking or baking projects, partly because every time I cook something I falsely believe that I will remember what was in it for longer than about 20 minutes after eating it and so don't write it down. Despite this though, I am going to attempt to write this up as an actual recipe, with ingredients and steps!

Assume a "~" in front of most things, because my kitchen measuring tends to be haphazard.
So, ingredients:

  • 2 cups of plain, wholemeal flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bi-carb
  • 2 generous TbSp tahini
  • 6 dates + 5-10 dates, depending on how lumpy you like your scones
  • 1/3 cup boiled water
  • 1/3 cup soy milk
  • pinch of salt


Pre-heat oven to 200°C- this is as hot as my oven actually will go, but if your oven is nicer, you can go up to 210-220.

In a small jug, cover the 6 dates with the boiling water, it's ok if you need more than 1/3 cup of water, but don't do more than you need to cover the dates. Leave the dates to soak for a while, or you can keep the water boiling (in a pot or microwave) for a minute or so to speed it up.

Meanwhile sift the flour, salt, baking powder and soda into a largish bowl.

Chop the 5-10 dates into small pieces, I cut them once lengthwise then twice across, making 6 pieces per date. I definitely used too many dates in these ones and they came out looking a bit special. So if you want a more uniform shape, go with less dates. Mix the chopped dates into the flour, making sure they all get good and floured so they don't stick together in a big lump.

Get your soaked dates and use a fork to mush it around a bit. Scoop out all the lumps (you could maybe use the mushy dates for something else, I put mine in the garden though), you should have a syrupy, datey liquid left. Top it up with soy milk until you have 2/3 cup of liquid.

Add the tahini to the flour and rub it in, as you would for pastry or biscuits or whatever else requires rubbing oily things into floury things.

Add the liquid to the flour-tahini crumb mix and knead it into a dough.If you are fancy and not using too many dates, roll out the dough to about 15mm and cut out circles. Otherwise just roll balls about 35mm in diameter and flatten to ~15mm. Spread the scones out on a lined baking tray, there should be about 12.

Bake for about 12 minutes.

Leave them on the tray and chuck a tea towel over them for 5 minutes to make them nice and soft.

Enjoy them sliced in half and covered with your favourite oil-based spread.

The end.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Simple noodles for simple Saturdays

I like to put my food in little piles as though I am really prepared, like on TV.

EDIT: I updated my blog from my phone for the first time, using the Blogger app. It didn't do a very good job with the photo, I will have to play around with it because it seems like a good way to make quick food-related posts.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Custard Tarts - cold, smooth, creamy and tart-like

I haven't cooked anything I felt like posting about recently, so in order to keep the food posts semi-regular I thought I'd post a picture of the last time I made custard tarts. I'm also going to post the subsequent "recipe" I sent my friend. Custard tarts are one of the best foods in the world. My rambled recipe which I am going to post with very little editing makes them sound a lot more complicated to make than they really are. Really, if you can make a half-decent sweet, short-crust pastry and custard, you can make custard tarts.
Not the prettiest picture. But it's the taste that counts.

recipe after the jump (slight language warning)

Monday, 1 August 2011

Reduce Those Ones, Not These Ones

Imagine you're somebody who works at a supermarket check-out. Especially over the last ~15 years, even more especially over the last ~five years. There exists the type of customer who wishes to reduce the number of plastic bags their shopping goes home in. Within this type, there are two sub-types -
1. the simple reducer, who might say "Please just put these four items all in one bag" or "I don't need a bag for this loaf of bread, thanks."
2. the re-usable bag presenter who says "Here are my bags, please use them. Excuse me! I said I have bags!" or simply piles their four or five assorted bags in front of their groceries.
Certainly both of these sub-types are driven by the same supermarket-eco-warrior ethos -  'stop giving me these fucking useless plastic bags!' With sub-type (1) it makes sense for the check-out operator to adopt a policy of 'cram as much stuff as you can into one bag.' Which I will now refer to as the 'reduce policy.' So far, all is well. Unfortunately there seems to be a common occurrence of checkout operators who fail to see the difference between these sub-types and apply the 'But you want to use less bags!!' logic to everyone who refuses a separate plastic bag for every item bought. My whole adult (read, independently shopping for myself) life I have been one of these annoying customers, bring an assortment of oddly shaped bags to the supermarket, and 10 years ago, I was willing to accept the confusion and failure to adapt to customer behaviour that caused deviations from the general supermarket bagging code (which I have always assumed to be something like "if it might be pet food, it gets its own bag; if it might weigh more than 200g, it gets its own bag; if it is toilet paper or bread, it gets its own bag; if you probably shouldn't eat it, it gets its own bag). For a long time I have noticed a trend where a lot of checkout operators seem to apply the reduce policy to sub-type (2) customers. What happens in these instances is that the customer produces three re-usable bags, allowing plenty of space for a moderate amount of groceries, only to have every item jiggled, squashed and tetrised into one bag; the other bags left to sit there, looking stupid on the collection end of the checkout. For a long time I tried to ignore the feeling that there was a pattern to this, but it has become impossible to do this. It is quite clear to me that the relatively recent shift towards retailers taking a more ethical approach to plastic bags has forced supermarkets to change their bagging policies in an attempt to show that they care about fulfilling the needs of concerned consumers. Unfortunately, this has probably made the false application of the reduce policy even more common.

This makes me mad. Not so much because I am continually astounded that still! today! I often have to re-iterate multiple times that no, I really don't want that stupid bag, but because it is such a complete and utter failure in logic and common sense. Yes, people requesting less bags and people bringing their own bags both want to reduce plastic bag use; and yes, the second type may sometimes find themselves in the situation where they belong to type (1) due to being unexpectedly at the supermarket and buying an amount of items that is too many to carry without aid. BUT when a customer has brought sufficient bags to hold all their groceries in a way that keeps soft things from being squashed and allows for not having 15KG in liquids in one bag, they do not want the number of bags reduced to the bare minimum of re-usuable bags the groceries can possibly fit into.
So please, checkout operators, or maybe the people who train checkout operators, can you wrap your heads around this and stop fucking ignoring the fact that I have given you not one but two, three, even four bags to work with. Yes I want to reduce the usage of plastic bags, this does not equate to reducing the total number of bags I use to carry my groceries.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Sausage-rolls, rocking my freezer (and my belly)

Sausage-rolls are one of the few things I buy (rather than make) pastry for. I can make flakey enough pastry for pies, but sausage-rolls require a kind of flakiness I am not at all confident in being able to produce. So I turn to Borgs. Sausage-rolls are definitely a make-in-bulk and freeze food that I don't make often enough. That said, I tend to rely on them too much when I do have them, so maybe I make them just often enough.
I like to make them in winter because my 'secret' ingredient to make them taste amazing is chestnuts, however maybe the season is over because my supermarket didn't have any. The base of my sausage-roll mix is generally cooked soybeans, so I just threw a handful of almonds in with these to add a bit of nuttiness. Although nothing can replace the wintery, roasty goodness of chestnuts.

Sometimes I find the filling is too loose and not sausagey enough, so this time I have tried to make it a gooyer, more cohesive mixture, adding some cornmeal and gluten flour to bind the mixture and give it a more cooked, solid feeling. I typed this up while they were cooking, unsure if this would hold true or not. It did, to a degree. I would like to get a slightly chewier feel but I am reluctant change my recipe too much from the base of beans and cooked, processed carrot, onion, mushroom mixture. A solution might be to precook the filling into sausagey shapes first, although this might just make it a more time-consuming process, and I find them quite satisfying already.
I only partially cook most of them for the freezer, to the point just before the pastry browns. But these ones I cooked right through for my very delayed lunch.

I tried to get a photo that would show the filling on the inside, but it kind of all just blends in.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Missing Page from Vicroads' "how to drive" book

I'm thinking of adding a counter on the side over there, to keep track of how many times I nearly get killed by someone turning into a side-street without checking for or bothering to give way to pedestrian traffic.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Other Type of Muffin

I really, really like English breakfast muffins. I don't buy them that often though as I tend to place them in the luxury/occasional compartment of my diet. I've been trying for a long time to reduce the amount of packeted/pre-made things I buy. Lately the right (well, right for this purpose) balance of time and finances has encouraged me to try a little bit harder. So, today I decided to attempt to bake my own muffins. I did a quick google for recipes, but nothing grabbed me as being important or amazing enough to follow so I really just made it up.
I prepared the dough as though I were baking regular bread only I substituted most of the water for soy milk and added a splash of olive oil because I wanted a slightly softer, lighter result than how my bread normally is. I used half/half white and wholemeal flour and left out the gluten flour I normally add to most bread-type products.
After letting the dough rise once, I rolled it out and cut out circles. I let these rise for another hour or so before baking them. Unfortunately they used some of their rising energy to go out instead of just up, although since I gave them no barriers to prevent this, it was to be expected. I probably let them crisp a little too much, meaning that it will not be optimal to toast them as I normally do with the bought ones. Overall though, I am really pleased with them, and happy to have more muffins, with fewer ingredients, for much less cash dollars than when I buy them.

Fresh from the oven, I spread cornmeal on the tray, that's what they're dusted with.
At first i thought they were a bit too thin, but they really are not too bad.
With peanutbutter, the inside was soft, warm and perfect.

They did turn out quite circular.

Friday, 15 July 2011

I Can't Hear You!

When I walk, I like to wear headphones. This includes walking to the train station, the supermarket, the pub, and - most of all - walking my dog. I also like to wear headphones on public transport, whilst working and at the shops or other public areas. I don't wear in-ear headphones because I find them intensely painful. I experimented with the type that sort of clip over your ears, but I found they didn't sit close enough to my ears unless I wore a tight beanie over them. So, I wear large, over-the-head, closed headphones. On cold mornings I often wear them over a skinny hood or beanie. For anyone who is not visually impaired, there is no way you can miss the fact that I am wearing headphones. You probably can't actually hear that I'm listening to anything as they're a closed design and I'm also not trying to rupture my eardrums.
Now, if I'm outside sweeping my trees, watering my footpath or checking my mail and I see someone walking along, their ears well insulated and covered by not only some kind of warming head-wear but also big-arse headphones, I would assume that there would be little point in verbally addressing this person. Apparently many people do not make this assumption. I am always astounded by how often I'll be walking my dog and some (usually older, but not always) person will just start talking to me. To be clear, I rarely have a problem with someone "interrupting" my listening activity by providing a visual cue (waving etc) that they wish to make verbal contact, this is an acceptable way to communicate with someone wearing headphones. But when people just start talking as though I can magically hear them, it is only sheer politeness that stops me from yelling "I CAN'T HEAR YOU, you fucking, unobservant idiot!"
To all the old people who attempt to engage me in some nonsensical conversation: Most of the time I am more than happy to spend five minutes talking to you about your neighbours I've never met or some sports team I've never heard of. If, however,  I've missed the first minute of your rambling because it took me that long to realise you were talking to me, the whole thing just makes even less sense and I will just smile, nod, say good morning and be on my way. So, no headphones: talk away. Headphones on: please just wave, because I CAN'T HEAR YOU!
To the couples buying coffee and thinking my dog is cute: just smile at him, give him a pat even - he'll enjoy it, but leave me the fuck out of it, because I CAN'T HEAR YOU!
To the crazy people, the slow, meandering, aisle-blocking, purse-dropping dipshits in the supermarket: It's because of you I wear headphones in the supermarket, I don't need to hear your stupid apologies for nearly running me over with your trolley and I don't care to educate you as to what that vegetable is, just get the fuck out of my way and observe that I CAN'T HEAR YOU!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Smashing (heads or potatoes) and Grilling (people or capsicums)

 The intention of this blog is to provide for myself, a public outlet for two of my most loved indulgences - gratuitous pictures and descriptions of food; and hating on everything and everyone.
An odd combination, perhaps, but popular culture has taught me that people who care about food are - perhaps even by law - jerks. Whilst actually considering myself to be quite a nice person, I do like to rant, rave, hate and heckle in a jerkish manner. I also really like to cook and to make other people cry because they don't have my awesome dinner. Thus, a blog about food and hate.
It has been suggested that I could create two blogs - one about food and one for ranting. But I happen to think that hating and cooking can go quite well together. The two things can actually come together to create an exciting narrative - often I have to leave my house in order to buy ingredients, which of course leads to observations of and interactions with other people, which tends to remind me of how much they piss me off.
Like this evening, I walked home from the shop, thinking about how people on motorbikes generally make me angry, then I got home, listened to a song that hates on motorbikes, opened a beer, and made some pasta. All in all, quite a pleasant evening. 

This is my pasta machine, it is really shiny. Tonight I had an unexpected and impromptu dinner guest - my Mum - who actually gave me this pasta machine, so it was nice to finally serve her some pasta from it. I forgot to take a photo of the final product, but I have leftovers so I will do that tomorrow.