Introducing tor

tor says she hates writing “About Me” paragraphs so I’m certainly not going to ask for another one.

At her blog “Adrift and Awake” she writes on:

Feminist snark, sex, the media and great big helpings of schadenfreude (Woman cannot live off sauerkraut alone, you see). Living the Australian dream in a draughty inner-west apartment (no really, I can hear kookaburras from my living room. In the middle of the city!) Procrastinating with style. Chain-smoking and bad TV indulgence

Her post on the importance of husband-approval units as currency in cookery blog threads is crossposted here.


tor notes that Culinary Success! is best measured in units of husband-approval

So, cooking – it’s not really my thing.

Some people get really into cookery and use seasonal ingredients and make their own gnocchi and everything. I would like to be one of those people. But sadly, I can muster up very little enthusiasm for cooking. But I still cook a little. After all, one must eat!

Since my cookery repertoire is so meagre I often find myself browsing big recipe sites to get spinach ideas and the like.

And I read the comments.

Comments are the scourge of the non-feminist internet. The more general and mainstream the site, the more bigoted and venomous the comments, and usually I avoid reading them unless I’m feeling very masochistic.

But I always read comments on recipe sites because they are 1) informative, and 2) quite low on bigotry (I suppose it is difficult to inject a lot of racist / sexist bile when you’re commenting on something as apolitical as spinach and potato soup).

But recipe comments suffer from their own pollution.

It seems every second or third comment makes reference to the commenter’s husband. Like:

I thought this recipe was okay, but my husband thought it was way too spicy!


My husband usually hates vegetables, but he thought this was nice. Will make again!

In fact, it seems that maximum husband-approval is the greatest compliment one can pay a recipe:

Wow! 5 stars!!! My husband loved this! He went back for seconds! And thirds! Thanks so much for this!!!

It is incredibly annoying!

It makes me feel like I have teleported into 1950s suburbia (a magical 1950s suburbia, with consumer net access).

It is a reminder of how little things have changed, at least on the domestic front.

I am waiting for the day when I come across a recipe comment along the lines of:

Zomg! My wife loved this. Will make again and again! Thanks!

On that day, I will make my own gnocchi. With a sauce made from seasonal ingredients!

This post is crossposted from Tor’s blog Adrift and Awake. See the comments on the original post here.

Dame Mint Pattie’s Canberra Wineries A2Z – Collector Wines

a2z banner

Okay, so this is another winery that really shouldn’t be on the list, but…

Our Man and I first came across Collector Wines at the Cafe in the House* annual goat BBQ. It went down very smoothly and we wanted to try it again just to make sure it wasn’t the siren song of roast goat that lured us to the second glass.

A quick phone call to winemaker Alex McKay confirmed Collector doesn’t have a cellar door.

“I’m concentrating on getting the wines right first,” he said (or something like that – can’t read my notes). In any case, you’ve gotta like someone who’s more focused on what ends up in your glass than worrying about all the extras. It’s a decision that carries through to the bottleshop floor – Collector produces only two wines, a reserve shiraz and the Marked Tree Red, which both King James and Captain Hooke** give props (…the Ali G eps do come in handy at times).

The wines are available across Canberra: Airport Market Cellars, Plonk at Fyshwick, Cox Kelly in Civic and Georges Liquor Stable in Philip, as well as some of the IGAs (Deakin, Ainslie , O’Connor, Lynham). Alex explained most stores have the 06 Marked Tree Red. The 07, a frost year, had a low yield and the 08 has just been released. According to Alex the 08 is closer to the style he’s chasing – a lighter shiraz that still packs a punch – a bit like a burgundy.

With a slight nod to symmetry, we picked our bottle of 06 Marked Tree Red from the Kitchen Cabinet in OPH for $28 and matched it with a big, juicy Angus steak. The wine was deep red, almost magenta in colour, with a hint of white pepper on the nose and lots of berry flavours – fruit with a touch of sweetness but a dry peppery finish. It’s soft, juicy and went down a little too easily if you’re eating out but since we were at home…

Cellar door or no cellar door, if the 06 is this good, I’m very keen to try to an 08. And who knows, maybe OMIC will crack open his moth collection wallet for a taste of the reserve.

*I always want to call it Cafe in da House – too many Ali G episodes I guess
**or should I say James Halliday and Huon Hooke both rated these wines highly

These posts are cross posted from Our Notional Capital, where Dame Pattie blogs with her partner, our man in Canberra. The progressive list of Canberra and region wineries is here.

Keith Floyd’s wake

Twitter has brought bad news (thanks @ninjamoeba, we share your pain).

I hereby call on all members of Progressive Dinner Party to pay at least a minute’s silence to the great Keith Floyd, who has passed away quietly at home after what appears to be a series of illnesses, at the fairly young age of 66 (well, that would be young if you were not Keith Floyd).

We will miss you Keith. We adored your alcohol-sodden shows and your irreverence. The last made it possible for all of us, no matter how ordinary or, erm, Australian, to embrace your plummy accent along with the knowledge and passion that went into your food. Good on ya Keith, we’ll miss ya.

Raise your glasses please. Time to share our favourite Keith stories! In fact, just pass me the bottle will you?

floyd and ivana

Image of Keith Floyd and Ivana Trump sourced from “Wives, wine and fame … my recipe for self destruction” by Keith Floyd writing in The Daily Mail

Emica’s camp cooking challenge; or, the search for the perfect scone

Possessed by the spirit of our straitened times – and the rubbish value of the pound against the Euro – The Man and I decided to have a staycation and spend a week’s summer holiday camping in the Lake District. Key words to note here: camping; Lakes; England. What can I say? The Man must have caught me at a weak moment. Perhaps I was distracted by a Queen of Puddings or some other delicious fancy.

While not virgin campers, we are definitely novices and our previous test runs coincided with a spell of perfect English summer weather – blue skies, puffy clouds, burbling brooks. On these occasions it seemed only a matter of time before Ratty and Mole punted past our tent. We hadn’t taken cooking equipment on the brief test trips and I’d been equally impressed and alarmed by the other campers’ kitchens and what was considered essential camp cooking kit (a fruit bowl? Really?). So with visions of warm evenings grilling some little something picked up at a local grocer, we booked a week in a tent in the Lakes.

We’ve stayed in those vast, tarmaced caravan parks before (on honeymoon in Dorset in a 1979 Kombi camper van) and this time specifically sought out a camp site that would be a bit closer to nature. The first site was absolutely beautiful – a few farmer’s fields littered with boulders, criss crossed with dry stone walls and with long views across the valley to the fells above.


Well, I say that now. I only discovered these charms on about day 3 when there was a brief break in the pelting rain and gale force winds and I could actually take in the surroundings rather than scuttling between car and tent, head down and zipping the fly sheet behind me.

Continue reading

When you’re the tool of the day…

Why would the fifteen-year-old Tom opine such a comment from the back seat of his Dad’s car as we wend our way out of Cooma on Sunday night? Being one of four tired, sore, happy boys on their way back from the snow? Research data has its price.


Since 1977 there has been a Greek milk bar/café/restaurant just north of the main roundabout in the main street of Cooma. My research data tells me so. We visited this restaurant, the Tourist Cafe Restaurant & BYO, three times on this trip. The first time, at 7.30 on Thursday night, was to discover that they only do takeaways between 7.30 and eight, as they try to clear the dining room of guests. On Thursday there were two more-elderly-than-any-of-us grey-haired gents busy writing at tables at either end of the dining room as we waited for our takeaways, and they weren’t budging. But a nice touch, which added to the ambience, we thought.

Continue reading