Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Goose stew and living with a racist

It's water fowl hunting season and the bird of choice, because they're by far the biggest and most numerous and therefore the easiest to shoot, is the magpie goose. Also known as Anseranas Semipalmata by bird geeks and Gurrumattji by certain Aboriginal tribal groups in Arnhem Land.
Prehistoric bird, apparently
Magpie Geese are an important food source for Aboriginal peoples of Northern Australia and also fill up the freezers of many non-Aboriginal people of Darwin and its surrounds. Traditionally, they are plucked, gutted and thrown on the coals and that's about as technical as it gets. The problem I have with this method is directly related to the fact that magpie geese are the leanest animals you are ever likely to eat. Tasty, sure, but invariably tough and chewy if you aren't a little inventive in terms of cooking method. The only thing you can conceivably do with the leanest part of the lean bird, the breast, is to slice it thinly across the grain and marinate it for flash frying. 

You may be thinking that you could cook it like like a duck breast, but you'd be forgetting that ducks have fat and these birds do not. None. Whatsoever. 


A box of geese...sleeping

a bag of giblets

My wife, an Aboriginal woman, grew up eating geese regularly and is more than a little set in her ways when it comes to preparing and eating them. They must be plucked, not skinned, and a goose stew is typically based on a soy and oyster sauce and vermicelli noodle concoction that tastes fine, but doesn't really float my boat.

While I would do many unpleasant things for my dearly beloved, plucking many large birds, when the skin is not something I consider a prize component, is not one of them. It's a shit job and I won't do it. Similarly, if I'm going to spend hours hunting and cleaning geese, I'll damn well cook them the way I want to. 

Well, not always, but I'm in the mood for exaggeration. 

On a recent Sunday afternoon, I retrieved a bag of geese limbs from the freezer and began preparing dinner. On observing me, the first and only question my wife asks is "are you cooking it white-man way or black-fella* way?" The inference, of course, being that 'white-man way' is clearly inferior.

It is so hard being a white man these days. The oppression and ridicule is barely bearable. But I pushed on, ignoring the racist remarks, and produced a meal that I was reasonably happy with. Sure, there is always room for improvement, but the meat was tender and the sauce had flavour. When you consider that magpie goose is often some of the toughest and most unforgiving protein you can attempt to use, I was more than a little pleased.

So, I was silly enough to ask my Black Queen - "what do you think, was it alright?"

Her reply "uh-huh, yeah, it was OK." The tone in her voice easily translated to "white-man cooking is shit". 

Ignore the racist** woman, if you've stumbled on to this page, looking for nothing more than a cooking method that will turn your lean goose limbs into edible food, here is the short answer:


Cook them in a pressure cooker for 75-85 minutes. 

75 minutes seems to be a sweet spot. I'll sometimes throw in some potatoes for an extra ten minutes. Whether you throw white-man or black-man ingredients in the pot is entirely up to you, but this is what I added:

Garlic, ginger, onions, carrots, chilli, anchovies, tomato paste, chicken stock, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, red wine (after reducing by at least half) and some frozen veggies at the end because veggies are compulsory, apparently.
spot the fat

onion, garlic, chilli, ginger, anchovies

I did take a picture of the final dish, but it looked about as appetising as a tofu burger. All that matters is my trustworthiness and that I give you my word that it tasted fairly good and the meat was falling off the bone.

Here's a photo I took of a rock, instead.



*in this part of the world, black-fella is often black-Asian-fella due to the history of Chinese and other Asians' interaction with Aboriginals over the years. Hence the soy and oyster sauce and vermicelli noodles. No, I have no idea how the noodles worked their way into the recipe.

**the fact that I have to confirm that I'm not being serious here is more than a little depressing. The term 'racist' is one of many words that has lost its meaning due to over-use. A bit like "hilarious" and "best ever" and "news". In all honesty, I'm more prejudice against white people than my wife. 

White people are no good. Don't trust any of them.



Saturday, 25 November 2017

The brevity of life and first world problems.

I have problems. 

Everyone has problems, but on a scale of one to ten, with one being "I hate my job and I can't seem to save money for a holiday" and ten being "I live in real and daily fear of having a bomb dropped on my head and have no access to clean water and food", then my problems are about zero point six. And even that's probably an exaggeration.

I don't love my job, sure, but it pays well and I'm not digging ditches in the sun or bored out of my mind. And yet small talk in the office kitchen or elevator inevitably involves a comment from someone about how close it is to the weekend. We're all either full of shit or wishing our lives away without acknowledging how truly fortunate we are to be functioning human beings without real problems.

Mornings in my house used to be stressful because it'd invariably end in me yelling at my kids to hurry the hell up and get ready for school. I'd be stressed, the kids would be sad and it was all for nothing - because I had this inexplicable 'need' to get to work earlier than necessary. What an idiot.

I'm trying to make a concerted effort to live more 'in the now'. It's a work in progress, I admit, but I think I might get there one day.

When it comes to what I put in my mouth, I know for a fact that my body runs efficiently on animal flesh and the fat that comes with it. If I regularly eat bread, pasta, grains, my body lets me know that it's not happy by adding a few kilos to my waist and letting colds and flu past my immune security system. It doesn't matter how careful I am with portion sizes or exercise, that's what happens and that's why I don't do it. 

Luckily enough, I'm healthy and I don't suffer serious adverse effects from eating particular foods. We also have access to a wide range of tasty animals. Eating good food is a priority in our house so, once in a while, it's nice to let loose and eat something that I wouldn't normally. Like pasta. 

But not any shitty pasta with shitty ingredients. 

Some of the ingredients. 

Prawn heads in boiling water = easy prawn stock

bacon, onion, garlic, chilli, white wine, stock
Hairy fish = umami

Drinks break
Cream and parmesan cheese
Another drinks break
and served, of course, with:

Life is short. I have no real problems. In fact, I'm exceptionally fortunate to be able to live a little and indulge, once in a while. Monday will come, I'll go to work, and I'll still have no real problems.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Leaving money to the Heart Foundation in your will - are you sure? Really?

What people plan to do with money after death is clearly none of my business, but I wonder if they've really put much thought into the value-for-money side of things when deciding to leave money to charities, as opposed to, I don’t know, leaving it to family, friends or their cat.

Maybe I'm just a selfish, self-absorbed pessimist, but my observations tell me that the number of people, businesses and charities asking for money is beyond a joke. It pains my perpetually-oppressed white man sensibilities that I can’t walk into the bloody supermarket without first avoiding eye contact with the smiley young person asking if they can “ask me a quick question”.

Of course that 'quick question', that follows the first question, is nothing of the sort. It’s a scripted monologue about how the kittens with leprosy in Barbados won’t last another brutal West Indian winter without my monthly automatic credit card debits. Or some other vague but altruistic cause for which I’d be a heartless prick to say no to.

The ‘quick question’ eventually comes and it is simply “what is your credit card number?”

Fuck that. Fuck the smiley young person and fuck the cats. Yes, as a matter of fact, I can hear the little kitties screaming and I’ll still sleep very well tonight, thank you very much.

Which brings me to the Heart Foundation. It's my favourite charity. The very name sounds so noble and heroic. So what if their Heart Foundation 'tick program' is a transparently ridiculous sham? They need to charge food companies for it, otherwise they won’t have the funds to conduct research to save our hearts.

Our hearts, damn you!


Heart disease is responsible for more deaths than the US military. You’d be a sociopath to say no to such a wonderful cause. There's just that unfortunate fact that almost everything the HF espouse, is based on a massive pile of stinky, necrotic nonsense. In my opinion.

The Heart Foundation is one of our more well-known charities, operating for many years and with a string of greatest hits including Fat Clogs Your Arteries Like Sludge in Your Sink, Vegetable Oils Make Squeaky Clean Arteries, Salt, Salt, it's all your Fault.

One of the Heart Foundation's converted faithful - who is quite proud to be poisoning their customers

The HF have also formed partnerships with altruistic food companies to spruik wonderful new food stuffs with plant sterols that are no doubt slowly saving the population.

throw away your statins and eat this

a very interesting question


And so people hand over their money and add the foundation to their list of beneficiaries in their will. They participate in HF events like Jump Rope for Heart and MyMarathon. Yes, they even torture themselves to raise money for the cause.

But I have this feeling in my gut that a lot of these people don't really know where that money will end up. Funnily enough, the HF are not shy in telling us.






Is that true? Well, according to the 2016 Annual Financial Statements:

The HF did quite nicely in 2016, with a $22.4 million surplus for the year. They pay no tax of course, and had just under $34 million cash in the bank - as at 31 December 2016.

Of the $64.7 million they received in fund-raising for the year, $44 million was from bequests. 68% of their fund-raising comes from people who leave money in their wills.



That would be a fantastic statistic if you thought the Heart Foundation was spending that money wisely (i.e. good research), but when you consider their consolidated revenue was $81.6 million and $12.33 million (15.1%) was spent on research - it doesn't sound so crash hot. Especially considering they spent $15.5 million on fund-raising. 

Yes, they spent more on fund-raising than they did on research - surely you saw that in the bar graph above? They haven't tried to hide it.

But it gets worse. They spent $27.9 million on health programs. This might be great news if their health programs made sense, and I certainly agree that encouraging people to quit smoking and exercise is a good thing, but their major push in the area of nutrition is a massive counter-productive mountain of bullshit. 

$27.9 million or 43% of fund-raising dollars (or 63% of bequests) goes to funding, in my personal opinion, shit. It's not just a waste of money, it's encouraging people to avoid animal products in favour of sugar (digested carbohydrates) and vegetable oils.

Personally, if I were so inclined to sideline my children in my will, in favour of a bunch of obtuse clowns, I'd like my money to be going into valuable research. I admit to being sceptical about any research the HF consider worthy of investigating, but I was impressed with the microbubble clot busting thing. What else they've contributed to the world of cardiac health, is not so clear.

Rounding this up - I'm not saying we should all hoard our cash and not give it to good causes or those in need. I'm just saying that we should think before handing it over to a massive marketing machine that spends a significant amount of your contribution on their self-interest.

This is the world we live in now, and the HF has a lot to do with it:



Surely life would be so much easier if we all just used butter




Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Study: The hypothesis that early man deep fried food is not supported by evidence.


A new paper has just been published. You read it here first.

Abstract

Evidence of early humans using the deep fry cooking method is bordering on non-existent and anyone who says otherwise is high. Further studies involving the preparation of intensely flavoursome morsels of protein may be required.

Introduction

Credit where it's due, if it weren't for the efforts and ingenuity of archaic humans, we would not be here today.  But as progressive as homo erectus and neanderthals were, there is no documented proof that these 'cavepersons' regularly deep fried their meals in animal or coconut fat. 

For starters, the whole process is time consuming and messy and monitoring oil temperature is vital in serving a meal that is cooked evenly and that family members are happy enough to eat. Then there is the clean up, which, to be completely frank, is a fucking pain in the arse.

Materials and Method

To test how time consuming and messy the deep frying process is, a used (once) deep fryer was purchased on Gumtree and a few cows' worth of dripping procured from the local supermarket.

Chicken nuggets ensued.

As did salt and pepper squid.

And to finally dispel any remaining doubt, I pulled out a recipe that is as fiddly and laborious as it is delicious...Thai stuffed prawns.
all these prawns appear to be female

prawn stuffed with more prawns that have been blended with delicious stuff



a school of stuffed prawns




Results

The food was crispy and delicious and the whole family enjoyed it immensely. The clean up process was annoyingly lengthy, involved many rolls of kitchen paper, and not something I would bother with on a regular basis. My outdoor table is covered with globs of cow fat.

Discussion

To my knowledge, no one has ever unearthed proof of neanderthals using rudimentary temperature monitors or crafting filters from the ballsack of woolly mammoth so the used oil could be cleared of impurities and stored for subsequent fry ups. 

This speculation* that neanderthals had the time, inclination and mental ingenuity to cook nuggets of meat in oil is up there with the fairy tale about them farming potatoes and grinding wheat to sprinkle on their salad.

Conclusion 

The deep fryer, when used with natural animal fats and not poisonous and unnatural seed oils, is a modern cooking tool that produces delicious morsels of nutrition. While it is possible that the neanderthal had the intelligence to render animal fat, heat it to high temperature, and immerse protein until the surface is crispy and tasty, the likelihood of them doing so is almost zero. 

*speculation that I made up because I was bored.

References

Tefal Filtra Pro User Manual

Thai Stuffed Prawns recipe from the cooking class we did on our honeymoon in Phuket.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Remembering the clowns on ANZAC Day

I have the utmost respect for anyone who has been tasked, voluntarily or involuntarily, with participating in war. I can't imagine what that must be like and I never want to find out.

April 25 is our national day of commemoration for all those that have served in our armed forces - ANZAC Day. ANZAC being the acronym for the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps and the date being a reference to the day in 1915 when our troops landed on Turkey's Gallipoli Peninsula. 

On April 25 we honour the soldiers and their families who have been affected by their service in war or peacekeeping efforts (except our Indigenous peoples during the British invasion, but that's a tangent for another day). We may choose to do this by attending services at dawn, watching ANZAC parades that operate down almost every town and city main street or by wearing a red poppy. It is said that during the First World War, red poppies were among the first things to grow in the devastated battlefields of France and Belgium.

The respect shown to the diggers and their families on ANZAC day is fantastic. My Dad is one of the unlucky sods who's birth date was pulled out of a hat in the late 1960's and won a trip to Vietnam in 1968. The acknowledgement and respect he receives on that day, after almost 50 years of suffering its psychological fallout, is priceless. When he returned home in 1969, he was simply expected to forget about his tour and get on with life. 

Those scars don't heal.  

So, it's tricky to word a post about the negative aspects of ANZAC Day without looking like an ungrateful prick; an accusation easily thrown at those who are quite happy about the acknowledgement aspect, but not so thrilled about the media, retailers and the major sporting bodies celebrating the financial benefits that inevitably go hand in hand with 'remembering'.

Then, of course, there are the politicians. 

I think you'd be hard pressed to find a sane person who doesn't think war is shit. Despite it being shit, a lot of people also view it as sometimes being necessary. In my experience, that viewpoint is typically a prelude to vague and tenuous reasons as to why the war is justified and why our country had to be involved. 

So, what are the reasons we, as a country, should participate in armed conflict?

  • to help out a country that's been invaded;
  • in an effort to stop a lunatic from slaughtering lots of people;
  • because one of your allies says that you should;
  • to prevent an apparent lunatic from developing nuclear weapons, the same weapons that you or your allies have shitloads of;
  • to stop communism;
  • to stop terrorism;
  • to provide the wonders of democracy to countries that don't currently enjoy it;
  • because you're an elected politician and your popularity will improve;
  • to prevent all the helicopters, jets, ships, subs, tanks and soldiers, that you've spent billions on, sitting idle.
Politicians of many countries use these reasons, despite most of them not having any logic whatsoever. But, being politicians, you never know the true reason and it certainly seems to me that the reasons for Australians being involved in any war, ever, can be summarised as follows:
  1. because the UK and/or US asked us to; or
  2. we volunteered to, so that we were seen to be supportive of the so-called democratic West.
Since the Korean War, if the American Government decides to pick a fight with someone, our democratically elected clowns dutifully tag along. 

I'm not saying there will never be a good reason to participate in war, I'm trying to point out that the decision to do so is inherently clouded by the fact that the people elected to make that decision are corrupt liars with more than one agenda, which is further complicated by the corrupt liars in the mainstream media.

How on earth are the average people meant to commit to an act of war when they are being fed blatant lies by scumbags who don't have any skin in the game? The scumbags are not the ones who have to don a helmet and risk their lives. They're not the ones who are left physically and psychologically damaged for life. They're the ones who benefit from death and destruction and then gather 'round on days like ANZAC day and piously lay wreaths as if they had nothing to do with the deaths of all those people, both in our country and the countries we effectively trespassed on.

As Paul Hogan once said (or the writer of a certain TV show in the 80s) - the politicians belong in B Company. They'll B here when the troops leave and B here when some of them come back.

Our schools teach kids about how many lives were lost in war, where they were lost and selected tales of bravery, but the reasons for joining the war are usually fairly light on for details.

Why did we join the Vietnam War? The official line is that "Australian support for South Vietnam in the early 1960s was in keeping with the policies of other nations, particularly the United States, to stem the spread of communism in Europe and Asia".

That's it. Because communism.

Which sounds very familiar to recent wars that are fought because terrorism. Because we don't like the ruler of another country or we don't think they should have the same weapons that we do. Don't we, especially our soldiers, deserve a better reason than that? 

I don't know why it is any of our business what social system another country rules by. Why does it matter for some countries and not others? Why can the US Government continue to do whatever they want, international law be damned?

US exceptionalism is maddening; it's like the world is one big school yard and they're the over-grown bully. The Australian Government is the skinny weakling, hanging on to his back pocket, taunting the other unpopular kids who, one day, might decide to throw their considerable weight around. We're really that confident that the bully will help us out, if it does come to that.

I have so many questions and the only answers that make any sense to me, get so little exposure. 

I'll continue to have mixed feelings about ANZAC Day. I'm grateful that my Dad came back from war in one piece and I'm proud of his strength to battle through life with mental scars he didn't deserve to receive. But until the day comes, when after the last post is sounded and the soldiers are acknowledged, we take a minute to remember the clowns who sent them all off to war...I'm not sure I'll be able to wholeheartedly get into the spirit of the day.

Maybe that makes me shallow and spiteful. I can't help it...it shits me that so many people are forgetting to ask some very important questions.

Why? And who decided why?