Animals Australia: the voice for animals

Animals Australia: the voice for animals
Love life? Love all of life

Friday, February 23, 2007

Vegetable texture

These Vegetable Pies are Miss Eagle's favourites. Over at Photo Friday,the subject this week is Texture. These Vege Pies are laden with texture. The pastry is Puff Pastry out of the freezer cabinet at Maxi's. It lines the pie dishes and makes twisted ribbons of pastry for decorating the top. On the pastry base, the first layer is mashed pumpkin. This is a wonderful base for whatever and however you choose for layering the remaining vegetables. The green in the photograph is asparagus and the red is strips of capsicum. Somewhere down below are pumpkin and squash and onions and herbs. Sprinkled on the top are tiny cubes of feta. The secret of wonderful appetising food is colour and texture and these pies have both in spades.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Where does it all come from?

J.M. Coetzee, Nobel Laureate, now resides in Australia. To-day there is an opinion piece in The Age: an edited version of a speech Coetzee will give in Sydney to-night. Here is an excerpt:
The transformation of animals into production units dates back to the late 19th century, and since that time we have already had one warning on the grandest scale that there is something deeply, cosmically wrong with regarding and treating fellow beings as mere units of any kind. This warning came so loud and clear that one would have thought it impossible to ignore. It came when in the mid-20th century a group of powerful and bloody-minded men in Germany hit on the idea of adapting the methods of the industrial stockyard, as pioneered and perfected in Chicago, to the slaughter - or what they preferred to call the processing - of human beings. Of course we cried out in horror when we found out what they had been up to. We cried: What a terrible crime, to treat human beings like cattle! If we had only known beforehand! But our cry should more accurately have been: What a terrible crime, to treat human beings like units in an industrial process! And that cry should have had a postscript: What a terrible crime, come to think of it - a crime against nature - to treat any living being like a unit in an industrial process!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Seasons of the Soul: Shrove Tuesday and Pancake Day

To-day is Shrove Tuesday: more commonly known as Pancake Tuesday. Pikelets count for Pancake Day and the recipe is here. For a George Herbert meditation for Shrove Tuesday, go here. During Lent, Miss Eagle will be posting at To the Desert on topics related to this great Season of the Soul.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Be tempted: and be mindful of your food and its origins

The program for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival came out with The Age yesterday. It's on for young and old. If you missed out on getting a hard copy yesterday, then try here.
Miss Eagle's spending priorities (she wants to be in WA in May for the ARIDS launch - see below) will keep her on a tight leash. But not to worry! Miss E's top priority event has three of her favourite things: Flour, Fed Square, and Free.
Top of the list for Miss Eagle is the International Flour Festival. For a breadmaker like Miss E, this promises to be wonderful. Please go to the bottom of the page for what Miss E thinks about Flour. For the non-rice dependent world corn and maize and wheat are the staple grains. From these four grains come flours to feed the world.
And then there are qualities and strains within the grains. For instance, durum wheat is THE breakmaking wheat. It is a 'hard' wheat and it's great for pasta too. Please check the product information on your packet of flour. The cheaper home brand flours on the shelf of your local supermarket are usually NOT durum wheat. They are of a softer wheat - great for cakes, but not for bread or pasta.
Picture at right: Durum Wheat
In recent years, there has been a periodic shortage of durum wheat in this country. For Miss Eagle, this is a dramatic issue second only to Climate Change. Australia is among the world's major wheat growers and exporters. We have a small population (20 million). If we have to import bread-making wheat, what is Australia coming to? If we cannot be self-sufficient in the factors of production of the staff of life in this country, why is this not a matter of national priority?

The item below comes from Bellata Gold

From the Farm Gate by Natalie Tydd

The 2006 durum wheat harvest, that took a little over two weeks to complete, was the culmination of months of hard work and planning, the ultimate goal being to produce a plump, golden grain high in protein and gluten strength with no chemical residue. Pasta quality is dependent on the durum characteristics as there are only two main ingredients in pasta -semolina and water. The 2006 growing season was plagued by drought, little to no rainfall meant many farmers were grateful to harvest at all, the result being a significant shortage of quality Australian durum wheat on the market. However, though the Bellata Gold yields were slightly down on previous years due to the lack of rainfall, the quality of the grain harvested is first-class. Owner, Doug Cush, believes the 2006/07 pasta produced will be a particularly good vintage, believing that the grain will have even more natural flavour than previous years due to the dry growing conditions. Once again the unique 100% traceability from the farm through to pasta production has ensured that Bellata Gold pasta quality and supply remains consistent from one season to the next.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Gung hay fat choi!

Food at work is back in the forefront this week. Miss Eagle teamed up with Sau, a Vietnamese colleague, to turn on a celebratory lunch for Vietnamese/Chinese New Year which begins this weekend.

This table was filled with fruit, Chinese mementos, and New Year Cakes.

Red, the traditional colour of luck, was dominant in decoration and in food. Red and green is the traditional colour for food so that placed watermelon top of the list. Strawberries and raspberries accompanied the fruit platter.

Towards the rear at the right is a box full of lucky money envelopes. Now, we couldn't afford money for everyone so every pretty red envelope carried New Year sweets.

Sau has quite a reputation in our department for good food. And she did it again. She gave us Beef Salad and Pork and Vegetable Wraps with Plum Sauce. Here is a vegetarian version of Vietnamese Wraps.

As can be seen, the food was presented in a setting which was Chinese themed for New Year in colours of red and gold. Chinese lanterns hung from the ceiling and red and gold scrolls with New Year wishes for business hung on the windows of the boss's office.

Sau had an opportunity to share some of the customs of the Vietnamese people at New Year with her colleagues. This gave her great pleasure because sometimes conversation centres around her food and cooking skills. This time she was able to share something of how she and her family celebrate this most important occasion on the Vietnamese and Chinese calendar. This year is the Year of the Boar or the Year of the Pig, in particular the Year of the Fire Boar. In China, the Boar ( ) is associated with fertility and virility. To bear children in the Year of the Pig is considered very fortunate, for they will be happy and honest.

Box Hill, in the leafy eastern suburbs of Melbourne, is home to a significant Chinese community and to-morrow Box Hill will be celebrating from early afternoon to the early hours of Sunday morning. Check out what is planned here.


Everlasting Peace Year After Year

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A desert retreat and camp oven cooking

If you look at the doily with the map of Australia in the side bar, please note that the left hand bit with the embroidered Kangaroo Paw floral emblem is Western Australia from where Miss Eagle's good friend, Ian Robinson writes:
A national retreat on desert spirituality is to be held actually on the edge of the Australian desert 70km east of Southern Cross, Western Australia. The official launch of the Australian Research Institute for Desert Spirituality (ARIDS) will be held in the Koora Retreat Centre, hosted by Rev Anna Killigrew and Rev Peter Harrison. Costs are still being finalised, but they will be modest! They include good food, campfire, desert plains, salmon gums, toilets, showers are beds. We will keep silence. Trisha Watts is our keynote prayer leader. Out of our times of silence will come the sounds of a ‘still small voice’ that she will help us to share and to welcome. Many of you know Trish’s outstanding music and gracious workshop leadership, and you others are in for a treat. There will also be time for words. Papers on some aspect of Desert Spirituality are hereby called for, and if necessary will be selected by the working group composed of Rev Dr Anna Killigrew, Rev Ian Robinson, and Rev Tracy Spencer. Only a smallish number of papers will be offered. Access to Koora is via Perth or Kalgoorlie by air, train car or bus. Contact Ian Robinson, at, and Ian will help you find share transport.
Picture: Rabbit Proof Fence 25nm to the East of Southern Cross
In August last year, Miss Eagle was on another desert trip led by Ian. This was to a sheep station, The Nine Mile, near Broken Hill in the Western Division of New South Wales. If, dear Reader, you visit The Trad Pad you will find a number of posts on the topic. On the last night, Miss Eagle cooked a full camp oven meal in the creek for ten people. Below is the roast beef - a corner piece of topside with the selvedge of fat left on - sitting in the camp oven. Not in the picture was the accompanying Yorkshire Pudding.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Savoury Tartlets with Bread Cases

There is a magazine called Diabetic Living published under the Better Homes and Gardens (Australian version) imprint.
Miss Eagle picked up Issue 7 - January/February 2007 but can't speak for every other issue. Attached to Issue 7 was a booklet with 63 food ideas for summer and an emphasis on lunch boxes. Miss Eagle decided to make the Salmon and Asparagus Quiches on page 22 of the booklet.
Miss Eagle decided on these because, when there was a "bring a plate" lunch at work prior to Christmas, she noticed the surprise of some about the bread cases of savoury tartlets brought by one contributor. She wondered how many others might be surprised and/or interested.
People in Miss Eagle's pre-baby boomer age group won't be at all surprised. In the days of ladies' church fellowships with monthly meetings and "bring a plate" activity, bread cases were regularly seen. They are easy to make and keep well in an air-tight jar. In those long ago days, small fluted metal flan trays with lift out bottoms were not around. We had patty cake tins. These are now referred to (as a tribute to American colonisation) as muffin pans.
So here is the recipe below. Miss Eagle found this recipe a bit rich for her tastes and next time around will restrict herself to an egg, cheese and onion and herb mix.
Ingredients: Non-stick cooking spray; 12 slices (toast thickness) sour-dough vienna, crust removed; 1 bunch (195grams) asparagus spears, woody ends trimmed, cut into 2cm lengths; 1x210 gram can no-added-salt red salmon, drained, bones and skin removed, flaked; 4 egg whites (from 55 gram eggs); 2x55 gram eggs; 185ml (3/4 cup) skim milk; 1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives; freshly ground black pepper
Method: Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius; spray muffin pans with cooking spray. Using a rolling pin, roll each slice of the loaf until about 4mm-thick. Press two slices into each pan, overlapping slightly to completely line the pan. Press together the edges to seal well. Spray lightly with the cooking spray. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden and crisp. Meanwhile cook the asparagus in a large saucepan of boiling water for 1-2 minutes or until tender crisp. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Drain. Pat dry with paper towels. Divide the asparagus and salmon evenly among the baked bread cases. In a small jug, whisk together the egg whites, eggs, milk and chives. Season with pepper. Evenly pour the egg mixture over the filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the filling is just set. Set aside in the pans for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Allow to cool.
Miss Eagle's Notes
  1. Miss Eagle used to types of bread. One was a pre-packaged and sliced multi-grain bread. The other was a sour dough loaf of Phillipa's. The sour dough loaf was not pre-sliced so the slices Miss Eagle cut were thicker. As well, the bread is stiffer. The multi-grain loaf was softer and rolled very thin. It fitted better into the pans and left a nice amount of room for the filling. The sour dough loaf while it came up nicely in the baking did not hold as much filling. I think for keep, etc. perhaps the multi-grain bread might better because it makes a neater, thinner, size. Sorry, Phillipa.
  2. For quiches and scrambled eggs, Miss Eagles prefers to use evaporated milk - and there is a light option available. It is thicker and richer than ordinary milk and a better consistency for this sort of food preparation than cream.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Frangipani: inspiration for a Pie

One of the most beautiful flowers of the Tropics is the Frangipani, the Plumeria. The Frangipani comes in a range of colours - apricot, pink, magenta - but the sweetest of all is the traditional yellow tinged white. Miss Eagle, though now living in the foothills of the beautiful Dandenongs in Melbourne, Victoria, is a born and bred Queenslander. Her earliest experience of the Frangipani was at her grandparents' home in Wilston in Brisbane. There was a huge Frangipani where she used to spend hours thinking and playing. Now that she lives in the c-o-o-o-l climes of the Temperate Zone she makes do with pictures and memories. Out of those memories came a hunger for Frangipani Pie. The Frangipani Pie comprises three layers - not counting the crumbed biscuit base and the meringue on top. The first layer is a milky coconut flavour, the second is pineapple, and the third is more of the first.
Herself worked yesterday afternoon and when she came home to Frangipani Pie it brought back childhood memories. In the 70s and 80s, one couldn't go far without bumping into a Frangipani Pie but they don't seem to be as prevalent these days. Frangipani Pie is just s-o-o Queensland. Miss Eagle ensures, as far as possible, that her fruit and vegetables - fresh and canned - are Australian and, coming from Queensland, she has a high level of commitment to Golden Circle products.

Monday, February 05, 2007

At work: lunch with a lift

The Boss came out the other day and said "Everyone's been working so hard lately, I want to give them a lift. Thought we'd have a lunch and get some pizzas in. What do you think?" Well, dear Reader, Miss Eagle's face scrunched up.
Pizzas certainly would not give her a lift - and she didn't think it would anyone else either in this predominantly female department. "OK" he said "you look after it." Well you don't give Miss Eagle an inch but she takes a mile and here is what she did. Miss Eagle did the fast food bit - sushi, Subway, and pita wraps. She brought in some desert from home. Also from home came various bits and pieces to make things look very special and here is the result. People loved the whole deal - and it did give everyone a lift! Smiles on faces everywhere!

This is the entry to where lunch at work was served.

Catering was for almost 30 people.
The work of our department is such that staff could not just be taken out for lunch and - even in-house in the suburbs - the nature of the work required that attendance at lunch be staggered.
The Pita Wraps

The Subway subs

The Long View

The Sushi

The Desserts were strawberry tarts: large ones based on the recipe for the smaller tarts below and a farmhouse apple pie.

Farmhouse Apple Pie

The Farmhouse Apple Pie was made from Miss Eagle's favourite biscuit pastry and ten granny smith apples (peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced) and carefully placed, nay packed, into the pastry, then sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon (please note: no added liquid) with lattice placed on top. Pastry was then brushed with egg yolk although milk can be used. Then baked in a moderately slow oven. The apples were an inch or two above the top of the deep pie dish. After the slow cooking process, the apples had settled down to being level with the top of the pie dish.

Please Note: The pastry Miss Eagle used was from a quantity already in the fridge. The quantity in this recipe will, almost certainly, be too large but the remainder can be stored in fridge or freezer and it makes wonderful bikkes so you can get out the biscuit cutter and get busy.

Strawberry Tarts from Delicious

(These are small tarts. The recipe is simple so easy to do a large version)

Ingredients: 250 grams of your favourite plain biscuits; 75 gram of unsalted butter; 250 grams of mascarpone; 1 egg, lightly beaten; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; 1 tablespoon icing sugar; 250 grams strawberries, hulled, halved or quartered if large; 1/2 cup redcurrant jelly, melted.

Method: Lightly grease four 10cm loose-bottomed tart pans. Process the biscuits to fine crumbs in a food processor. Add the melted butter and pulse to combine. Press the biscuit mixture into the base and sides of the prepared pans, then chill for 30 minutes to firm. Place the mascarpone in a bowl with the egg, vanilla and icing sugar, and whisk to combine. Fill the tart shells with the cheese mixture, then remove from the tart pans (you may need to wipe the outside of the tart pans with a hot cloth to loosen). Place the strawberries on top of each tart and brush with the melted redcurrant jelly. Serve immediately.

Miss Eagle's Notes

  • Miss Eagle prefers not to use the food processor for crushing biscuits and adopts the following method. Place biscuits inside a plastic bag. Take a large wooden rolling pin and bash biscuits into small chunks then roll the small chunks (still in the plastic bag) into fine crumbs. Easier, finer crumbs, and no mess!
  • When Miss Eagle filled the tart shells in the morning before going to work, she must have been half asleep. It was not until later that she realised she had simply spread the mascarpone on to the shells and not mixed it with the egg, vanilla and icing sugar. Still tasted great! Proof of how marvellously simple this recipe is when it can be adjusted in your sleep and it still tastes wonderful!
  • Miss Eagle has been known to forget the redcurrant jelly as well - and it still tastes wonderful. Miss Eagle hasn't tried it but she suspects that any melted jam would taste wonderful over the strawberries and mascarpone.