get real!: all packaged up

The Visy-Amcor packaging stitch up continues.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports Richard Pratt faces charges for telling pork pies to the ACCC.

He faces a possible 4 x 12 months jail or a little fine if found guilty of the 3 charges. He'll probably walk. If he's fined it won't make an iota of difference to his back pocket expenses. And if he is sentenced to jail, he'll probably get a house arrest style sentence.

The relevance? As with most industry sectors in Australia, packaging is a duopoly and at the end of the day the end consumer (that's us buying anything from a cucumber to a can of soft drink) pay for it...

Perhaps renowned philanthropist, Mr Pratt could extend his generousity to the general public by not ripping them off?

get real!: all packaged up

God save the Queen, English cuisine...

Let's face it, the British get little credit for their culinary culture. With smell and taste being the most evocative and best remembered senses, why would they - they compete with pizza over the harbour in Naples, or croissant by the Eiffel tower, souvlaki on a Greek Island, and so on!

In their own austere way the Brits have had a food culture all along. It's steeped in cosy corners of the local inn where local ales are still served with pride. Forget the sea-side pubs and their deep-fried brie with cranberry sauce and goujons of fish or chicken with chips - the stamp of mediocrity can be found globally.

In the country lanes of Suffolk, or perhaps any county, inns serve up comforting, welcoming, honest food. I recall arriving at one of these places on a Sunday in Yoxford, to be told the kitchen was closed, but the staff would just have a look at what the chef had left...

We could have some lamb broth and bread. Whatever - we didn't care. We were cold and hungry and plonked ourselves down at a table to soak up the heat of the open fire with a pint of Adnams.

Broth was an understatement; steaming as they hit the table our bowls were filled with thick chunks of lamb and vegetables in a flavoursome soup; someone had heated this up in a pot as it was without the trademark "cold spots" (the antithesis of the public pool) a microwave leaves behind. Had it been summer, I dare say we would have been given a ploughman's plate, that would have been excellent too.

It seems to me that the British have a strong foundation in "travelling food" - either the things you want to eat when you're weary from being on the road, or the things you want to pack to take with you. I'm thinking of ploughman's plates with regional cheese or meat, served with some fresh bread and a locally made relish or pickles and whatever greens might be in the garden, a hearty stew with spuds, or a portable pork pie with a slurp of hot english mustard.

Last weekend (the Queen's birthday holiday weekend - you know, that Queen we have, many say we don't want, and the mother country doesn't even celebrate her birthday) with a group of friends, the boys (all of whom grew up north of Lancashire) began talking about scotch eggs. Did I have a recipe?

Well no I didn't, but the next morning I read a few bits and bobs about scotch eggs online and by happenstance had the relevant ingredients. Using pork mince blended with onion, salt, pepper and nutmeg (and some leftover roasted fennel) I made a "sausage" mixture which is then wrapped around boiled eggs and crumbed. I put these in the oven although most recipes call for deep frying.

It's not something I'd make regularly, but the scotch egg is a classic - it's an all in one, sausage & egg buttie, ready to travel!

Mission not impossible - cooking for a vegan and a carnivore...

I have been on a promise to entertain some friends as a thank you and the "connecting friends" couple who, had given us a strong impression they don't do dinners. I think it's just to avoid awkwardness as one is a (not entirely strict) vegan for medical reasons and her partner is more carnivore than omnivore (and fussy with the omnivore bit). I needed to get creative...
We started with some homemade antipasta of grilled eggplant, fennel and artichoke (blanched first) tossed through EVOO, garlic, lemon rind and a few slithers of a dried chilli. The Erskineville deli provided the last-minute additions of olives and dolmades.

With that we followed up with hot smoked salmon, homemade aioli and pizza breads - one using the olive marinade oil, a rosemary one, and a plain one.

Racks of lamb marinated overnight in EVOO, garlic slices, lemon zest and fresh rosemary were cooked on the weber - they'd been a "blackboard" special last week, with apple and mint jelly. We had back up by way of Quattro Stelle lamb & rosemary sausages.

I made a fennel and savoy cabbage slaw with red wine vinaigrette and a cauliflower salad inspired by a post on the stonesoup for "winter tabouli" with pearl barley, my take on several recipes for baharat, almonds, an orange juice based dressing and pomegranate. On finding the carnivore didn't eat fennel hubby quickly sorted some diced potatoes for roasting.

I made pumpkin and chickpea fritters for the vegan.

We finished with a baked custard tart with whipped cream (and defrosted mango cheeks for the vegan). Coffee got a bit weird with golden rum and whiskey venturing from the cupboard, and then we were spent.

I know it's not Everest, but reflecting on this earlier today I felt a mild sense of achievement in putting together, what I thought, was a fluid meal for eaters at each end of the dietary spectrum.

Gob Smacked

Today I received an email from an international FMCG giant using the contact email from my business. Ironically I was in the process of relaunching via a blogspot owing to a technologically awkward week, however the email came through the former email.

On first instance I'm chuffed - I've done something good enough to register on the radar of such a powerful company.

And then... I read the email. They think, based on my "blog" (even though they came through another site) I might be interested in what they are doing - launching a corporate website an Ambassador website aimed at promoting balanced nutrition. Behind this is an impending launch of a product (of which I may receive free samples) called "vegie pourover".


Yes, I am interested, but not in the way they think I am. I find the entire concept repugnant. A company that has nothing to do with fresh produce is purporting to be an ambassador of balanced nutrition is morally reprehensible.

And finally, I am insulted. Is my message so queer, is my writing so obscure that I could be mistaken to tout this brand? Or do they think I am that fickle, that desirous of their attention that I will promote their product for nothing? I would not promote their product for cash, it is exactly what I think is wrong with the way food is marketed and retailed.

And that, dear readers, is where we have the power... These companies are starting to realise that a thinking minority of consumers, people who are bold enough to stand up and express an opinion - bloggers, have some influence and power on the future of consumerism.

And that is a complement indeed!
Stickyfingers has also received the same email. As a professional marketer she has some interesting thoughts on the subject as well.