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Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?  Answer: NO.

This NYT article by Mark Bittman says everything I want to scream from the tops of skyscrapers and church steeples all over America.  Junk food, fast food, processed food is NOT the answer.

It also touches on many themes I resoundly agree with — dispelling the myth that junk food is cheaper than the fruits of the earth and land; the cooking challenge; the need to breakaway from a culture of food consumption based on an 24-hour multi-tasking lifestyle; a call for concerted political and cultural action, a food revolution, if you will.

The cooking dilemma is perhaps one of the biggest challenges for most people struggling to break free from a processed food diet.  I’ll admit that there are nights when I don’t want to undertake the effort of cooking (not to mention cleaning), and I am a self-professed wanna be chef!  It’s takes time and effort to cook, and increasingly Americans are being brought up in an environment where food for purchase is so readily available, they don’t know how to cook!

But there’s a wealth of information out there about cooking.  An abundance of recipe books are available touting easy 20-minute suppers and other simple cooking ideas.  Cooking shows, cooking demonstrations at local shopping malls, magazines, books… Cooking can be easy and accessible, if you just give it a go.

For my part, I am trying to encourage healthy, “at-home” cooking, for those around me—-my office mates.  Last week, I served up 3 kangaroo loins, green beans, garlic bread and a tossed salad for the associates in the office.  It took 20 minutes, and fed 4.  Yesterday, Kelly and I made veggie pizza for lunch.  Using a pre-made pizza base and piling on freshly sliced peppers, onions, and tomato took at total of 5 minutes prep and 15 minutes wait time.  Approximate cost $8.  (Approximate cost for lunch from the laneways of Melbourne, $10-12 each.)

Apart from the cost incentives of personal food prep, there’s a moral aspect to cooking as well.  Working late nights at the office, it made all of us feel better have a “home-cooked” meal, plus we ate together in the boardroom (rather than the normal routine, stuffing our faces from a plastic take-away container in front of our glowing computer screens).  The joys of cooking are shared, and continued, with the joys of eating: communal food consumption.

So I challenge everyone to be honest with themselves.  Test the theory.  Go out and eat an easy meal at a sit-down restaurant, say pasta or roasted chicken.  Then go home, buy the ingredients, and replicate the meal.  See how it stacks up, and follow your taste buds!

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Readers beware, how can you be sure this is the real Claire White blogging?

A Claire White imposter has apparently been sighted in the state of New York, doing things like withdrawing thousands of dollars from the real Claire White’s bank account.  (Luckily, the real Claire White has an “air” tight alibi from the U.S. and Australian governments, as she was on a plane back to Australia at the time of the withdrawal.  So after about 35 hours on the phone with Citibank at international billing rates should be able to recover her money… possibly…maybe even this year).

Sure, there are ways to protect myself going forward.  I hear things like “fraud reports” exist, and Citibank may permanently freeze all my bank accounts such that no one – not even me! – can ever withdraw money again.

And the more and more I think about it, this is really my husband’s fault.  After having a perfectly unpronounceable name for the first 24 years of my life I was saddled with “Claire White”, possibly the most generic last name ever.  You might as well call me “female John Smith”.   Perhaps the best course of action is to change my name — using at least 1 capital letter, 1 symbol and 1 number (for security purposes of course).

Maybe I could seek to recoup my losses from him…

The real question is, with cash in hand, what will the imposter’s next target be?  Perhaps, knowing my love for mexican food, she will get a frequent purchaser card at Taco Bell, maliciously earning the benefit of free bean burritos in my name.  Or pull off a political-heist, registering an “R” vote on my ballot for the 2012 presidential elections thereby simultaneously creating newsworthy headlines (“Vote for a Republican candidate is received in the District of Columbia for first time ever!) and permanently tarnishing my carefully crafted political image.  With these pursuits behind her, what’s to stop her from invading my virtual identity??

So the real question is… are YOU safe?

As the winter season draws to a close, we are definitely looking forward to spring’s bounty.  For those of you in the northern hemisphere, here’s a warming soup to get you through those cold winter days to come.  Just in time for autumn harvest.  This was a huge hit with Cathy & Dave when they visited, I think Cathy even asked for leftover soup for breakfast the next day…

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

  • 1 large cauliflower, chopped into thick pieces
  • 3-4 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 500ml (2 cups) chicken stock
  • 300ml heavy cream

Combine cauliflower, shallots, leek and garlic in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil.  Roast for 1 hour at 200 C, turning occasionally. Bring stock and cream to simmer in a saucepan.  Transfer to a blender, and blend in cauliflower mixture. Salt & pepper to taste.  Serve with hot buttered soldiers (non-Aussies, read: buttered slices of sourdough toast)

* Adapted from the Gourmet Traveler

Tales from our trip to Hamilton Island, QLD, and pictures are here!   (a bit delayed I know… sorry, I’ve been traveling again! Better late than never…)

Hamilton Island is a little piece of paradise, on an island in the Great Barrier Reef.   Different from our normal on-the-go vacations, this time we took the opportunity to sit and relax, watch the sailboats float by and the sun slowly set.

Melbourne men,

If you carry a leather shoulder bag or briefcase, ok. You’re saying “I’m a professional” or maybe “I’m into male fashion”. All good, especially if you’re wearing a suit. Tres chic.

If you carry a backpack or sleek messenger bag, goodonya. You’re showing it’s comfort that matters to you, as you’re probably carrying a heavier load. Maybe you want to say “I’m sporty” or maybe you’re carrying your gym clothes and know that sweaty socks and leather don’t really mix at the end of the day.

But, if you carry a black linen shoulder bag with a large cat and a few French words emblazoned on it, you my friend, are carrying a man purse. I’m not judging, and dare not guess what was running through your head when you walked out of the house this morning. In any case, your murse has definitely caught my attention.

I’ve finally found something I miss about having a car – karaoke time.

I, like the rest of the world (or maybe just Australia?), am completely obsessed with Adele at the moment.  Turns out, however, that one attracts odd looks unconsciously singing along in a packed 8:45am tram.  But I couldn’t help it!  I had to consciously tap my toes, and hum a little, just to keep the tunes in my head buckled under.

One of the books I’m currently reading, Traffic by Tom Vanderbuilt, is all about the human behavior as it relates to, you guessed it, traffic.  A bit of an odd read for my current car-free lifestyle, but it certainly hits the nail on the head in the chapter dealing with the odd things people do in the inviolable solitude of their vehicles (even when other drivers may be no more than a few feet away).

Like solo karaoke time.  For me, driving time was always my jam time.  Crank up the volume, head tilted, full on jamming.

Oh well, guess the shower will have to suffice.