Kirsty presents: Food Art

Sometimes I find art made out of food quite distressing. When I see those strange, misshapen sculptures that are entered into competitions at agricultural fairs around the country I mourn the waste.  I think this reaction has much to do with the fact that said sculptures are usually half decomposed by the third day of the show, at which point I think of the poor sod who has to scrape the fetid, liquefying remains of vegetable carcasses from the cabinets in which they’re displayed.

Such thoughts were far from my mind when I opened an email from a friend that directed me to the website of the UK Telegraph and an article that show-cased the work of photographer Carl Warner.

Image by Carl Warner via

Image by Carl Warner via

Warner composes foodscapes and photographs them quite beautifully, as the image composed of purple cabbage above attests.  In the article there is some mention of the ill effects of hot lights on food, and, despite claims to the contrary, I’m not entirely convinced there’s much left over that’s edible after the obvious manipulations of supergluing and pinning. Still, since I can’t either see or smell any signs of decomposition in the images featured in the article, well, that leaves me to concentrate on the artistry of the sculpture and photography itself, which, you must admit, is quite spectacular.


Pantry Challenge

Kathryn Elliot of Limes & Lycopene is running another Pantry Challenge, inviting readers to rustle up something tasty from a list of staple ingredients.

I wasn’t able to participate last time , and was happy to see the launch of round two until I noticed she’d taken vinegar off the list! No vinegar! And no lemon juice! But I decided to do it anyway, and to do it without buying anything for the meal.

A meal from the pantry can be something knocked up in a few minutes, but that’s not the only way to make something quickly. In this case, I prepared a couple of elements in the morning and assembled it all in just a few minutes at night.

Here’s the ingredients list, with the ones I used in bold:

Mograbieh Dinner Salad

1. Olive oil

2. Tinned tomatoes
3. Tinned legumes or beans
4. Soy sauce
5. Frozen vegetables
6. Flour
7. Pasta or rice
8. Tinned fish
9. Eggs
10. Bread
11. Olives
12. Meat from the freezer
13. Fresh onions
14. One spice or spice mix
15. One dried herb or herb mix

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And then we ate the hare

Today my sister, her partner Anne and their kids Ciara and Reece joined us for The Eating of The Hare. They took our bigger boy out to lunch and Owy went to cricket, so I had a couple of hours of uninterrupted kitchen time to potter while our smaller boy slept. There is nothing nicer than feeding people that you care about, and to be feeding them food which they’d been responsible for increased the pleasure. Anne is a bit of a spoiler, so things kicked off with spiders made with sexy ice cream and Cascade soft drinks:


I’m not sure if that’s sharing or territorial pissing that you’re seeing in that picture, but that’s five year old boys for you.

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Op Shop Idol

I would like to publicly thank all those people who buy cast iron skillets, don’t find out how to look after them, use them once and give them to the op shop whereupon I buy them for a dollar each, clean them with steel wool and hot water, season them and happily cook with them forever after.

Bless them all. The little one I bought this week, the big one about six months ago. We don’t bother to put them away. They just live on the hotplates and get used every day.

I found a couple of other treasures today –

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Huntin’ and shootin’ and totally NSFV

We spent the weekend at my sister-in-law Anne’s farm on the Monaro Plains in southern NSW. There were all manner of country pursuits including feeding the sheep, watching the kids have goes in the tractor and letting the toddler have a go of the steering wheel.



Jet at the wheel

(If you think that was just some crazy set up toddler diving shot, check here – and no, we weren’t on a road.)

There was lots of good food and more wine than was really necessary. And there was my sister Kelly heading out to see if she could shoot a bunny, back within the hour bearing a wild hare. She is an art teacher and decided to get all Dutch on our ass:

still life

Then Anne dressed the hare while we (and the kids) looked on. We hung the hare for a day in the farm’s old “meat room”, and brought it back home on ice. We were a bit unsure about hanging it here – it’s not exactly a European climate, and we’d already gutted it. Fortunately Stephanie Alexander’s Cooks Companion had the answer – as it almost always does – and it was only necessary to rest it in the fridge for a few days.

I jointed it and rubbed the carcass with olive oil and it’s in the fridge on a rack, covered with muslin. I’ll cook it up tomorrow for the extended family on Friday, but we’ll need something else too as one hare won’t feed all of us.

We didn’t keep the offal because my sister was afraid of hydatids, but she’s not really an offal fancier and I wish I’d kept the liver. I’m thinking a braise with thyme, red wine, prunes, pepper and maybe a tiny bit of bitter chocolate. Your suggestions and expertise are very welcome in comments.

There’s a couple of photos over the fold (gore warning), and a lot more both photos and gore at my flickr.

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Dr Sister Outlaw’s justly famous Christmas pudding

I’m not joking. My Christmas pudding is about the best thing there is in the entire world. If you are in any doubt, ask Ampersand Duck, who paid tribute to it in 2007 after devouring one with Zoe and their other halves. For some years I’ve made special ones that I’ve set aside to give to Ducky and her Best Beloved, as they love them almost as much as I do and so, after much begging from Duck and some not so subtle hints from Zoe, I’m finally going to share the recipe. The world needs more pudding love.

I’d just like to say at this point that I hope nobody confuses my love of Christmas pudding with love for the festive season or even Christmas dinner. For me, the only good thing about Christmas is the pudding and it has to be perfect. This one is. It’s based on Stephanie Alexander’s mum’s recipe, AKA Emily Bell’s Christmas Pudding. However, over time I’ve worked in some important enhancements. Mine is more alcoholic and has nuts and treats in it. Best of all, I’ve learned how to do it vegetarian, which is helpful if you want to show Christmas love to people who object to consuming beef fat with their fruit.

Make it now so the flavour develops over the coming weeks. It takes some planning, so I’ve laid it out in stages – both vego and suet versions are included. The given quantities make two puddings, each of which furnishes about eight slices. You can do the math, because there are families in which eight slices will go a long way, but mine is not one of them. Just halve or double, depending on your pudding needs.

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Recession era eating on Bush Telegraph

Radio National’s Bush Telegraph has a “Food on Friday” segment which I adore. In fact I love the whole show and even the bits before it where host Michael Mackenzie flirts archly with Ramona Koval as she’s finishing up The Book Show.

In the segment, Mackenzie often talks to producers and other food industry people, but the program also looks at how communities, schools and other organisations are involved with food.

Today’s “Food on Friday”was on the subject of thrifty eating, and featured Stephanie Alexander who discussed her Kitchen Garden Foundation project, what she fed her kids and the many benefits of eating from large shared dishes at the table. The other interviewee was Pam Batten, President of the Country Women’s Association in WA. Her organisation’s cookbook, The CWA Cookery Book and Household Hints, has been in print since 1936.

The two previous programs – on farming rabbits (wild and farmed, breeding to size for restaurants, recipes from Sydney’s Bécasse) and heirloom beetroots can still be downloaded.

The image is from the Old Parliament House site via Philanthroparty – I struggled to find any more information about it. And as I’m mentioning OPH, do yourself a favour and check out Canberra House, an absolutely brilliant site on modernist architecture here in Canberra written by Martin Miles who looks after the OPH site.