Would you, could you, kill an animal to eat? For most of us, it’s a hypothetical question. We’re not in a position to go out and kill a beast, upon which to feast. Nor do we need to. We can pop down to the local butcher, point to a precisely portioned cut of meat, have it plastic wrapped or or vacuum packed within minutes, and there’s no blood on our hands. Not one crimson splash.
I raise the question because i will be attending a Whole Larder Love food workshop next weekend, where participants have the opportunity to “dispatch” a chicken. Rabbit skinning is also on the agenda, as is plucking and gutting and butchering.
I confidently signed up for the whole hands-on experience (participants can just watch, if they choose), but as the time nears i’ve started to question whether i will be able to see it through. Says my good friend Mel — who is accompanying me on this gastronomic adventure: “I’ll probably chicken out.”
We have chooks at our community garden. When a batch of chicks turned out to be roosters, they were dispatched by one of the garden members. He was qualified for the job. By this time next week i could be, too. Stay tuned.
Chef Ben Shewry of Melbourne restaurant Attica. (Photo: Worlds 50 Best Restaurants sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna)
Three years ago Ben Shewry’s ambition for Attica, his restaurant in the Melbourne suburb of Ripponlea, was to not go broke. Now diners have to book five months in advance to get a table on a Saturday night. The phone has been ringing off the hook since the restaurant was catapulted 42 places up the culinary ladder that is “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list this week to become the highest new entrant at No. 21. Read the rest here.
“I can’t live without a compost bin!” That was me, putting my foot down in the back garden when I was told the compost bin had to go. Some girls can’t live without pedicures, new shoes, or chocolate. I can’t live without a compost bin. Go figure.
He was right, however. The compost bin had to go. It had served us well for over a decade but the black plastic was falling apart, in some places it’d been gnawed apart as rats moved in for a nightly wallow in our rotting waste. The rascals were strewing egg shells, leathered avocado skins, and newspaper remnants across the garden each morning when their debauch compost bin binge was over and they decided — dawn-dazed and gorged — that it was time to go home. Continue reading
The Veggie Patch seedlings
Call me crazy, but when i awoke at about 3am one morning to hear torrential rain i pelted into the back garden — barefoot and in pajamas — to drag trays of seedlings under shelter. You see, my last seed-planting project resulted in a rather embarrassing yield. Of 12 trays planted with spinach, several varieties of lettuce, spring onions, leeks, chillies, and celery — the seeds of which i’d hand-harvested from the veggie patch in the preceding months — only three lettuce and four leek seedlings survived to be planted in the garden. Pathetic, really.
I had only myself to blame. I’d become a bit blasé about my green thumb. Those hand collected, then stupidly neglected, seeds suffered from Sydney’s searing, late-summer sun, several heavy downpours, and the ravenous pecking of a pair of birds — who also took it in turns to bathe in the cat’s water bowl — as cat and i looked on from the porch, nonchalantly. When green shoots failed to appear and weeds took up root in the trays instead, i silently lambasted my slovenly gardening ways. Continue reading
I have one burnt arm and two burnt bottoms. Two burnt bottoms of sourdough loaves, that is. The oven remains my biggest bugbear in this sourdough baking lark. I’m getting the hang of everything else. Following the advice of David McGuinness, baker extraordinaire who co-founded Sydney groupie hangout Bourke Street Bakery, i’ve been doting on my sourdough starter — the concoction of flour and water that contains the fermented, natural yeast and bacteria necessary to help the dough rise and which gives the bread a unique, slightly sour taste.
When David told me he used to feed his starter every day i nearly died of shame. Mine had been languishing in the fridge for over a week — unfed, neglected. When he told me starters should be fed every six hours in the lead up to a bake, i took the starter he gifted me — Stella II — to work so it didn’t miss a feed. Yes, I’ve become a sourdough tragic. Continue reading