Delicious Books

It rained today. It was cold, wet and dreary. I bought a salad sandwich for lunch; it was disappointing (multigrain: my bread nemesis). But I came home after a long day of feeling sorry for myself to find some presents waiting for me. There are always a few books you intend to buy when you get a chance, and every so often I buy them all at once from Abe Books. It's a great site that searches second hand book sellers from around the world. I've found some fantastic, elusive books of plays and poems for much less than their retail price, but it only recently occurred to me that I could buy cookbooks too.

The Spice Box by Manju Shivkaj Singh

An ex-library book, I think it was around $6 US, maybe $15 with shipping. It's in excellent condition, although I can see it getting pretty worn out in my kitchen pretty quickly. I've never attempted Indian cooking before, but I've decided that this is the winter. And after some research, I decided this was the book. I'm already drooling over the recipes for Aloo Matar, Tamarind Rice, Potato-Filled Bread (!) and Vermicelli Pudding.

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

I found this book in a shop in town. It came with many, many recommendations - and a $100 price tag. AbeBooks had it for under $20 US, including shipping. And it comes with delightful hand scribbled notes - always worth extra in my opinion. I'm excited just looking at the chapter headings - a whole chapter on breads by hand, one on gratins, one on dumplings! Over 1400 recipes - I can't wait to get started.

Other resources I love when I'm down on my pennies are the Food Blog Search website, Big Oven, and Cooks Illustrated. Happy hunting friends!

I Turn My Camera On

I, like my fellow blog mistress, belong to the cult of the iPhone. I just love that I can take my poorly lit, grainy, shitty photos and with a bit of tinkering can turn them into romantic Lomo snapshots that wouldn't look out of place on a postcard dated 1965. Inspired by Tara's recent post I've just now trawled through my iPhone album, and perhaps rather worryingly I've found a substantial number of shots of half eaten food, drunk and dark photos of me and my beer-faced friends, and about three million blurry shots of my very disgruntled cat. (Make of that what you will, folks.)

If my iPhone album is anything to go by, I seem to spend my life eating, trapping my friends into terrible myspace photos, or else chasing my cat around our kitchen... excellent. But enter one of my multitude of fancypants apps, and suddenly I'm not a food obsessed cat lady, I'm a cool and groovy chick, an epicurean, a frikkin wildlife photographer, and I'm living in some sort of hip pastiche world of pretty cats and italian food. Guys, I'm basically living in this Lady Gaga Clip. Thanks, Steve Jobs!

So what am I doing with all of these photos? Well, given that my food-blogging seems to have doomed me to a lifetime of disrupting meals with a sneaky photo shoot, I've been able to compile something of an iPhone tour of Melbourne eateries. Here are three of the half-eaten best.

This cake looked so amazing that I managed to snap a shot before it was consumed. From The Green Refectory on Sydney Road, their baked goods are amazing. This slice of strawberry flavoured weight gain was huge, huge and delicious.

Bolognese and watermelon granita from Pellegrini's, my favourite little italian in the CBD. This place feels more or less like the above-mentioned Gaga clip. There is even a signed Billy Joel photo above the bar, just to drive home the Italio-American vibe. I love it in there.

Borek from the Queen Victoria Markets. Getting your hands on one of these babies requires queueing, shouldering, and shouting. Fighting through the scrum at the borek shop is worth the effort though, spinach and feta heaven.

And one blurry cat photo, because I'm pretty sure he's going to kill me some day soon, and only this shot seems to convince people...

My Weekend (An Illegible Photo Essay)

This was the weekend I discovered, or rediscovered, several things.

1. I like apple beer. I like apple beer better straight out of the long neck in the car park of the bottle-o at a late hour, and a sub-zero temperature. I like apple beer best while watching dear friends dance with inflatable dinosaurs.

2. There are iPhone apps that will make your bad, drunken photos look like they were taken badly by your drunk parents back in the seventies. In one saturday night I managed to take about 83 photos of early, early morning fog and lamplights in Canberra. My apple-beer brain thought fog and lamplights were the most original photographic subject known to man.

3. Most importantly, all these factors conspired the next morning to convince me that the only thing that would alleviate apple-beer hangover was Gordon Ramsay style scrambled eggs.

Bad photo; good food. I like to think it encapsulates the paradox that is Gordon Ramsey: how can such an off-putting man create such tasty, tasty breakfasts? I don't know, but you have to trust me when I say these are the BEST SCRAMBLED EGGS I have ever had.

For those of you who don't want to look at Gordon Ramsey (I cannot blame you), these are the basics:
  • Crack two or three eggs into a cold, non-stick saucepan.
  • Add half to one tablespoon or so of butter.
  • Put on a low heat, and stir (with a rubber spatula) continuously until eggs are well combined and butter is melted.
  • Turn heat up slightly, and keep stirring until eggs thicken, and scramble. This might take a while, but it will be worth it.
  • Season at the end of cooking, not the beginning! Salt does bad things to raw eggs.

Don't bother to add cream; you don't need it. Serve with toast and coffee and the slowly returning memories of last night.