Nigella Lawson, eat your heart out!

Dear Nigella,

Happy Easter! I hope you have used this long weekend as an opportunity to consume as many cups of tea in bed as you possibly can.

I also have used the peacefulness of the Easter weekend to relax and indulge in a few domestic goddess activities of my own.

As you may already know, I am not much of a baker. I don't have a sweet tooth, so there's no reason to bake for myself, and as I don't have a family there are too few mouths to share the goodies with on a regular basis - I can hardly turn up to the dog park with a cake several times a week can I?

Recently however, I have experienced cravings of a kind never known to me before - chocolatey goodness cravings. As I don't stock chocolate in the house the best I have to work with is some cocoa, which set me into baking mode.

My first effort, some chocolate cookies, were overcome by the oven on steroids, as I was working downstairs and baking (upstairs) at the same time. Despite eating some of the cookie mix and supervising the second tray that went in the oven, the following week I still had an inexplicable desire for chocolatey goodness.

Armed with a Jill Dupleix recipe for chocolate cake I set about another exercise in baking. I don't have an electric beater so i was able to get elbow deep in butter and sugar until it was gooey enough for the whisk to do the rest of the work. I don't have a cake pan either, so I used the friand tray I have - quite impressively the cakes look rather Easter-y in the oval shape. And then, I heated the oven and turned it off, before the cakes went in, and stood by in disciplinarian mode to ensure nothing was spoiled. Success was mine (as was the remaining batter) and we have had Easter cake this weekend.

This then inspired an effort and Easter quiche. Armed with Quattro Stelle bacon and Fountaindale free range eggs, I prepared my first quiche. So 1980's I know, but food has a fashion and revival will be ours sooner than you can say "bastardisation of a chicken caesar salad". The quiche was made mini and in 2 shapes round (muffin tin) and oval (friand tin). As I said, I rarely bake so my baking equipment is very limited. Again, I loved the oval quiche in keeping with the Easter theme.

Whilst hope you are enjoying your tea whilst lolling about in bed, do remember that there are other bossomy brunettes about the world partaking in domestic divinity.

Kind regards,
Princess Quiche Lorraine

The final word on nutrition

Nothing serious here, just a little email doing the rounds that my mum sent me.
After an exhaustive review of the research literature, here's the final word on nutrition and health:

1. Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
2. Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
3. Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
4. Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
5. Germans drink beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
6. The French eat foie-gras, full fat cheese and drink red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Here endeth the Lesson.
Enjoy the easter weekend everyone!

Village says "no" to Woolworths

Erskineville village is nestled in between the better known areas of Redfern, Alexandria, Eveleigh, Newtown and St Peters and now falls under the Sydney City Council. Our Lord Mayor, the dog collar wearing Lord Mayor Clover Moore, and her council have the mantra "city of villages" and as Clover noted this weekend, Erskineville typifies the end goal.

There's limited on street parking and the streets are narrow with large islands in the middle and several pedestrian crossings to boot. The little village has no "super" market but a small grocery store, greengrocer, deli, bakery, pub (2 on the main strip), florist, cafes (several), thai food (again, 2), hairdresser, post office, vet, chinese takeaway and a few patches of grass and seats all within spitting distance from the train station. It's a very pedestrian area for "the big smoke" with a great community vibe and friendly smiles and nods between passers by. Hubby, puppy and I have found it a great place to live, and certainly enjoy Sydney all the more for it.

The area is traditionally working class and post war slavic migrants (the Serbian Orthodox church, technically in Alexandria, is still a steady business). Being wedged in between Redfern and Waterloo has kept housing prices in the area at bay, but over the past decade the last bastion of affordable housing within walking distance of Sydney's CBD has been getting pricier. In fact, at the end of last year, despite the slump in Sydney's housing ascent, the inner west of Sydney was the only area in double digit price growth.

Having ignored inner city pockets like this since starting out, our little community is now looking attractive to the opportunistic, notably one DA before council after the previous development on the site fell through, is for a 2 story supermarket (nominally Woolworths from the DA, yet Woolworths is not the developer). This has a number of locals up in arms and a community group has formed to "save Erskineville village".

Between you and me, and whoever else reads this post, I don't think Erskineville is going to need "saving" but I certainly agree that the village atmosphere we have should be preserved, and I believe that the proposal flies in the face of that namely owing to the proposed location a block with 3 one way lanes for boundaries, 3 blocks from the current village "strip", the "mixed use" zone encouraged by our "city of villages" plan, and the ludicrous "impact statements" that have been manufactured to support the DA (I don't know what hole they live in, but 4pm on Thursday is not peak hour traffic in Sydney).

Who knows what commitment Woolworths (or Coles) have given to the developer; having walked the halls of both companies I know they will not put their necks out for this and the current accessibility (which will not change unless they take the railway line between Redfern and Strathfield out) will give the transport manager and his contractor a headache or two.

I have submitted my objections to council without aligning myself to the aforementioned community group; I don't see the relevance a fast food retailer nominated on their leaflets alongside Coles and Woolworths has to do with the issue at hand, and when questioned I was told that they're anti big business. I am not. Big business has a role to play in our society, it is the merits of things that should be taken into account, not who is doing them.

On Saturday the village group hosted a sausage sizzle to raise awareness, raise a bit of dosh, meet and greet, and "our Clover" came to say a few words. This community happy clapping, back slapping isn't my cup of tea, but I am glad I went along because I got a real kick out of it!

Minutes before the Lord Mayor arrived I spotted a former colleague. She'd aged a lot over the 3 years since I last saw her (as we complained about our employer in her office whilst I waited for a meeting) but she confirmed indeed it was she. I was rather surprised to see her as I didn't think the sausage sizzle would be her cup of tea, and she explained that she was looking at moving into the area and signaled her Saturday newspaper as research. Talk about shitting in your own backyard-to-be... it was none other than Clare Buchanan, Woolworths Corporate Communications Manager & public spokesperson!

Beef and Pea curry

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.