Dining with Dogs – Dogs at the the dinnertable?

This morning, idly flicking through twitter as I sipped my tea, I came across a tweet.

Interest piqued, I replied.

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 7.27.24 AMIt seems ‘Tony from Windsor’  dined out on the weekend, at a dog friendly restaurant in Noosa.

It reminded me of the time when a certain newly wed, newly mortgaged couple were invited to their neighbours for a dinner party. For the newly espoused, this was a big event. Suitably frocked, Mateus Rose in hand (it was the late 1980s), our delightful duo embarked to the land next door, where they were met by amazing smells of spices, meats, pastry and something vaguely sweet.  The nose always  knows, they say, and in this instance the nose was not disappointed. Neither were the taste buds, the tongue or the tonsils. Course by course, the hostess – ‘Mum’s from France, Dad’s Vietnamese, we were raised in Noumea‘ – presented dish after dish and plate after platter piled with delightful goodies, well fortified by Mateus,  not to mention a few extra sips  here and there, as it were.

Duly sated, table cleared, the new bride wandered through the immaculately presented home to the kitchen to offer to assist with coffee making, washing up, or whatever was required.

What greeted her seemed impossible to her eyes. It made no sense.  For there were all the dishes and cookware, lined across the floor in what appeared to be military precision. Platters, plates, bowls, trays. Baking dishes. Oven tray. Chopping boards. And busy, on duty, a large Alsatian and a small, furry black ball with legs – both head down, tail up, ‘doing the dishes’.

*

My in-laws had Schnauzers.

I have photos of them sitting at the table, hair brushed and bibbed up, ready to eat with their ‘parents’ at the set table.

So tell me – what’s your views on doggies and dishes?  Is lick and wash an acceptable practice?

Oh – if you want to know what happened to Tony from Windsor – you can hear it here  (slide to 1.10)

*image courtesy of Google

Food Trails – August

Busy month!

I began establishing Edible Press in January this year. I spread the word with a few friends, and set myself the goal of getting things moving by September 2013. They shared the love.

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Truffle love: A birthday gift.

Around the same time, I applied to the University of Adelaide, to complete my Masters’ Degree in food studies.  August/September seemed a long way off back then.  Little did I know that I would be accepted, and that both would suddenly get busy right at the same time.

So August has had me chasing my tail a little bit. I have a small handful of regular clients that I love working with, and have been doing fun things with them like menu writing, establishing their food related written materials and advertising through to writing their newsletters and website content. It’s great getting involved in backstage and kitchen work as well as meeting new people and learning as I go along.

Getting my head around writing from a scholarly perspective again has been a challenge. I have discovered – well, rather, I have remembered – that I am far better at creative writing over the drier, academic requirement, and find referencing research and following thesis style protocol a pain in the bum.

I’d forgotten that part. It’s been a few years since I studied Post-Grad!

(By the way – if anyone wants a part-time job as my personal research librarian, contact me. I pay well, and offer food ;) )

So, between starting Uni in Semester 2 and getting my head around studying again, I managed to fit in a few new EP clients,  a few new connections, a few wonderful visits to some great places and of course, a few lovely meals with like-minded colleagues and cohorts.

As Rhubarb Whine, I’ve shared wonderful meals with friends.

Like the wonderful dinner at Tartufo, Brisbane.

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Chicken liver pâté with a rabbit terrine, served with cornichons, a micro salad and crusty bread.

And the stunning breakfast at Gerard’s Bistro, in James St Brisbane

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Black pudding, fried quail eggs over manchego custard, with flamed currant and smoked almonds.

And a little bit of a surprise birthday celebration, beautifully catered by Dalton Hospitality.

Amazingly fresh sashimi range, and so pretty.
Amazingly fresh sashimi range, and so pretty.

And visiting the EKKA (The Royal QLD Show) to be part of the Gourmet Trail tour, which visited many of the medal winning producers from the Royal Food and Wine Show.

Silver Medal Winner - Stockyard Wagyu: Wagyu Beef Rib Fillet 300g 400+ day Grain fed, marble score 8+
Royal Food and Wine Show Silver Medal Winner – Stockyard Wagyu Beef Rib Fillet 300g 400+ day Grain fed, marble score 8+

 

 

As Edible Press, I got to play in other arenas. Yes, this is work.

Like the  wonderful visit with Maleny Dairies, in the beautiful Sunshine coast hinterland – the largest independent working dairy in QLD.

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I know, it’s not a cow. But how can you resist something so cute? He played hide-and-seek with my camera. I kid you not.

And the day at Maleny Cheese, learning about their cheese production.

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Turning the vats of fresh cheese in the production room.

And some fabulous, fabulous food and tastings.

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I really, really miss teaching. I really miss the imparting of knowledge, the relationships with the children and the strong bond I had each year with ‘my kids’. I do not miss the stress, the politics, the intense pressure I was under and the endless, endless, endless administration and paperwork that had nothing to do with the classroom or the children.

I know I am doing the right thing, for me, for now, for long-term. But in the future – who knows? Educating our future generations in the importance of fresh produce, sustainability and nutritional practice is close to my heart.  Right now I am content to follow the road to where it may take me.

Photos and updates always at my FB page: http://www.facebook.com/EdiblePress

Food Styling and Photography

I’ve always loved taking photos.

When I was a wee tacker, I had little Kodak and spent all my pocket money getting film developed.

For that, I have a nice collection of the backs of people’s heads, accidental foot shots and some great eyes wide shut portraits.

IMG_0093I’ve been lucky and managed to jag a few over the years, that were not half bad.

I’ve sold a couple (literally. Two. For a tiny amount) and a few have been reprinted for commercial use, including the wall of a restaurant and some web pages.

IMG_0097But for the most part, it’s just something I enjoy doing – point, adjust, click, instant memory.

IMG_0109Those of you who have been here a while might remember the fateful trip – the one that started in a tropic port aboard a tiny ship.

That would be the one where my husband tipped me out of the boat and into the Pacific ocean.

While I had the Canon DSLR camera around my neck.

IMG_0112It did get replaced, but with a newer model.

I never really ‘connected’ with the newer camera.

I just couldn’t get the same results, the same detail, the same light.

IMG_0137A few weeks ago, I signed up for a short course called ‘Food Styling and Photography’.

After all, what could suit me better – food, photography, cooking and eating?

Sign me up, I’m in.

IMG_0117Chris Bell from Christopher Klaas photography ran a one day session that comprised sessions about food descriptives, food styling, shooting the images, styling for professional shoots and a short in-action photography cooking class.

All this plus lunch.

Ummm, yes please. IMG_0156

We had a professional stylist on hand.

This explains why the shots are all so beautifully choreographed.

It was up to us to find angles we liked, look for focus points,  and snap, snap, snap.

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Chris was there every minute of the way, instructing on aperture, ISO, colour techniques.

He spent a lot of his time talking us through our viewfinder, helping us to ‘see’ what sings, pops and catches the eye.

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As well as what does not.

English born chef Peter Brettell, from Wild Rocket @ Misty’s, was on hand to whip up a gorgeous dish for imaging purposes.

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His dish de jour was a beautifully fresh oven baked snapper with a hazelnut crust, snow pea salad with a pea and mint veloute.

As he talked us through the recipe (and we drooled into our camera lenses), Chris explained that the way a chef plates up for the table is complete different to how a stylist plates up for food images. IMG_0172

This dish, although it looks good, is plated for the diner. The diner looks at the dish from above. The eyes are drawn to the top of the plate, which should showcase the generosity of any specialty ingredient and highlight the main feature of the dish.  The quantities of sauce will differ, the diner needs to think they are getting ‘the best bang for their buck’, so generosity is perceived by the way the dish is ‘spread’. IMG_0174

For a food styling shoot, the dish is plated quite differently. The size and depth of the flatware is altered. The ingredients are arranged to encourage the colours to complement across the plate.

The protein, or  main feature, is angled slightly and tilted to show the degree of colour, depth of cooking and any firmness or marbling in the focus point.

There is a lot of ‘hands-on’ as each element is handled, moved and placed strategically. This has to be done quickly and with delicate touch, as to keep the heat, the glaze, the  freshness apparent.

Any sauce is used to work through against the salad, again to compliment colour.

Finally, a texture is added. A utensil, a cloth – something to add interest and excite the eye. IMG_0187

Finally, with a light screen and reflector, the shot is ready.

I can really see how different the two fish dishes look. In reality – this is the same slice of fish, and the same salad. It’s just been styled.

Both shots were taken with my camera, same lens.

Cool, huh? IMG_0208

We did have a chance to play.  There were lots of little tables set around  where we could style and shoot and learn.

So I think I may have made peace with the camera again.

I’ve given it a few runs, and make sure I take it out on a date occasionally. IMG_0211

I just wish I could bring along the stylist, the chef, the great guest speakers and maybe that fish dish, too. IMG_0212

If you want to see more photos, the album is on my facebook page here.
Do you think you’d benefit from this type of class?

Garden Share Collective ~ Post 2 ~ Compost

So, I have to follow up on my last Garden Collective post, apparently.

Something to do with agreeing to be accountable for improving my edible bits over the coming months, and journalling the photos.

Pretty sure that when I agreed to do this, it wasn’t 13 degrees, grey skied, rainy and miserable.

Nevertheless, you’ll be impressed to know I stood outside in my gumboots, in the rain, under the brolly, just to take these pictures for you.

‘Cos I’m good like that. IMG_2249

OK, really, I threatened Mr 15 and sent him out in the rain barefooted and then bribed him with apricot oak cake.

‘Cos I’m really good at that.

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So, in the last month, I have considered the walk of shame and pulled my A into G and given the garden a bit of a tidy up.

I gave all the herbs a good hardy trim which boosted the compost heap dramatically.

I topped up the pots with fresh soil, gave them some seasol and straightened up a little.

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I even patted them on the heads and had a little chat with them.

They did respond in kind, and in the 4 hours of sunlight we have had in the past 30 days managed to send off new shoots, roots and leaves.

I’ve always wanted to type that in some kind of legitimate context ;)IMG_2211

The small patch had a good weed, some new soil and good feed of blood and bone.The large patch has been cleared and the idea is that the terrorist chooks can dig, scratch and poop their hearts content in there until spring.

The bloody dog, who was most unimpressed with all the press the terrorist chooks got last month, wanted his 5 minutes of fame, and the fresh blood and bone mulched through the small plot gave him every excuse to biff and barge the fence down and dig, dig, dig like the poky little puppy he once was.

There is something tell-tale about the heady aroma of dead cow when rubbed all over the face of a black Labrador.

Still, as you can see, I am being rewarded by a good crop of rocket, some tat-soy, enough kale for a leaf or two in my daily smoothie, a half dog-trampled capsicum plant that is coming back to life, a sole lettuce, and impressively, an asparagus plant that survived both the terrorist chooks and the poky little puppy.

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The curry plant has come back with great voracity. IMG_2221

The chives, spring onions and garlic chives have also found their legs. And, if I can keep the terrorists out, look quite promising. IMG_2242

I did leave some long, lanky legs on the basil.  It’s because I love my basil and I know, if I cut these legs off I will regret it when I am on a pesto binge.

Besides, I need the leaves to threaten the terrorists with.

They hear it as ‘stuffing plant’.

I am sure somewhere in their bird brains they understand me when I tell them these branches will be poked up their clucker  should they rampage the garden again.

They just forget.

Bloody terrorists. IMG_2243

The strawberries have been cut back hard, thinned and fertilised. The lemon grass has been halved and repotted. IMG_2244

My Kaffir has bugs.

Still.

What is this and how do I get rid of it?

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Likewise, the baby bay tree has little black bugs, and if you look closely you can see two sad looking pineapples.

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The edible nasturtium has started growing again, around the rain tank.

All I need to do now is keep the terrorists out of the gardens and I should have great results in another month.

However, they seem to have developed another way in.

This time, they attempt the quick-flap-up-and-over maneuver. IMG_2190

Bloody terrorists.

*

This is the next post in a series of ” The Garden Share Collective” — a web hop about the veggies, herbs and edibles we grow. On the first Monday of each month I’ll be sharing my  failures and successes in the garden, as part of a community designed to help problem solve and gain motivation to growing clean food organically and sustainably.

Thanks to Lizzie, from Strayed from the Table, who founded this idea.

Check back next month to see how the garden, the terrorist chickens , and the poky little puppy  have progressed through the middle month of a wet, windy winter.

Garden Share Collective ~ Post 1 ~ Confession Time

This is a post written in shame.

Yes, shame.

I could blame it on post-hospital recuperation. I could add the cold weather, the frosty snap, the terrorist chickens. But the upshot is – I just got busy, and time poor, and it’s taken Lizzie’s Garden Share Collective series to guilt me into ‘fessing up and sharing my woeful tale.

This is the tale of what once was a thriving backyard garden, brimming with vegetables, herbs, citrus, spices and more.

Now, as I do the walk of shame, armed with camera, I introduce you to my festering weed plot and get it all out there.

‘Cos it’s pretty woeful.

Some things are not doing too badly.

IMG_2071My lillypilli looks deceptively green, and with fruit. The reality is, there’s about 7 fruits on the old girl, not even enough to add to a dish. The birds are feasting. IMG_2063The mango tree has had a strong Winter prune and is greening up nicely. I may even have a few mangoes come summer.

But the reality is here, in my coastal 1/4 acre, everything else is either woody, dead, bug ridden, chewed, moth eaten, stalky, bolted, shot or ready to be put out of it’s misery. IMG_2069My herbs are in planters. They are usually lush and green and loaded with lavish leaves. Here you can see the truth: Stalky Thai Basil, half dead curly leaf parsley, woody Thyme, sulky Sage. IMG_2058Even the Rosemary, (which does better in the ground, I know, but you’ll understand it’s pottedness in a moment) is forlorn. And I have no idea why there is stalky looking cherry tomato remains in the forefront planter – it used to hold French Tarragon :(

IMG_2070Even the lemongrass has dried out, the once lush stems now probably more suited to kindling.  IMG_2067I can blame these girls for some of it. By the time I have fenced off plots and pots with enough wire to keep out the Walking Dead, I need a lock picker and  wire cutters just to go out and gather some goodness.

But I know that’s not really why they are in such neglected sorrow.

I’ve been lazy. IMG_2056Look at these poor strawberries.

I mean really. What hope do they have of producing decent fruit? IMG_2055

And this Basil. More wood than a forest, more flowers than a florist.

I suck. IMG_2062

My Kaffir lime has bugs in the leaves.  It seems the fruit loves neglect – it fruits constantly – the knobby, nubbly fruit full of tartness. Apparently it’s hard to get a Kaffir to fruit. I have the answer. Ignore it :(

Under the Kaffir grows spring onions, chives and garlic. I didn’t photograph them because the terrorist chickens have been sun bathing in them.

IMG_2061The chickens smell great.

Pre-basted, even.

Given the state of the garden, they may just have to watch their step… IMG_2060

This is an eggplant. It’s in it’s 3rd year. It should have been replaced after it’s second season. My husband was so embarrassed that I was including this photo, it has now mysteriously disappeared and just the empty plot remains. IMG_2057

This is the small plot. It’s current purpose, apparently, is to provide a secondary bathing area for the terrorist chickens, which, as you can see, is proving very successful.   I don’t even know what that is, growing in the forefront. But it’s stubborn enough to withstand chicken bathing and mustn’t taste good, because it’s still there.

You will notice it’s behind the wire fortress.

Sigh.

Yes.IMG_2054

My Bay tree has bugs.  And scale. And something else, I think. IMG_2053

And the grasshoppers are loving it.

I so have some un-pictured goodies. The curry plant is doing great things,The lemon, orange and lime tree are starting to get ‘legs’ – they are only a year or so old. We planted these citrus trees IN the chook run. There’s irony in there, somewhere. They thrive.

The chickens ate the birds eye chillis. They gobbled the gooseberry bush, and discovered that carrots, peas, corn and rhubarb were all to their palate.

IMG_2052I wanted to leave this post on a up-note.

So – here’s a mandarin.

Wish I could say I grew it.

It comes from over the neighbour’s fence.

This is the first post in a series of ” The Garden Share Collective” — a web hop about the veggies, hers and edibles we grow. On the first Monday of each month I’ll be sharing my  failures and successes in the garden, as part of a community designed to help problem solve and gain motivation to growing clean food organically and sustainably.

Thanks to Lizzie, from Strayed from the Table, who founded this idea.

Check back next month to see how the garden – and the terrorist chickens – have progressed over the first cold Winter month.