Food Is An Important Part Of A Balanced Diet

I never stop and think about what awakens the memories that take me back to a childhood happening, a teenage adventure, or an adolescent experience. I don’t think the memories are caused by any of the five senses; perhaps there’s a sixth sense that invokes some of those long forgotten memories. The other day I had a flashback. I’d just gotten home from school and was walking into the kitchen through the back door; mum stopped rolling the rissoles she had just made for tea in breadcrumbs, turned from the counter and announced, I have a surprise for you.

Mum: I had to go up the street to Mrs Worms to get a half a loaf of white bread, and I got you a coffee scroll to have when you got home from school.

Because mum didn’t make coffee scrolls on her Sunday baking afternoons the chance to eat a warm, soft, gently kneaded dough with sultanas, butter, cinnamon and brown sugar, topped with a sweet coffee icing was a guilty indulgence for an innocent fourteen year old.

image source:jmcadam

Mum made her usual collection of lamingtons, vanilla slices, and matchsticks on baking day. Sometimes she’d double up on her lamington recipe so she’d have extra cake batter to make butterflies; which are just fairy cakes with their tops cut off. Fairy cakes are a smaller version of cupcakes, but they’re made with a lighter sponge cake recipe. Mum would cut small circles from the tops of her fairy cakes, and then cut the circles in half to make wings. She filled the hole left in the top of the cake with whipped cream, sometimes jam, and then push two half circles into the cream. The half circles sat atop each cake as if they were wings waiting to flutter. As I thought about mum’s butterflies I became aware of some forgotten memories of taste and smell. Cakes took over my mind; I thought of cakes that belong to a cup of tea, the types of cakes that cause happy thoughts in your brain, and cakes that are cakes as they are meant to be. And so I set off in search of a full service bakery and sensible, down to earth cakes.

image source:recipes.sainsburys.co.uk

I stood in front of the display case trying to decide between lemon bars, zebra brownies, turtle pecan brownies, coconut macaroons, and peanut butter cinnamon rolls. I waited for the customer before me to make his selection. He gestured toward a plate of walnut bars.

Customer: Is that the only keto you have?
Cake Server: All of our top row are keto
Customer: Great; I think I’ll take a zebra cheesecake brownie
Cake Server: Are you sure you don’t want to try our keto coconut macadamia chewy bars?
Customer: And now I just can’t make up my mind

I stood in a confused, mixed up state of mind; keto cakes!!!! What’s next, Vegemite macaroons? I fixed my eyes on the plate of lemon bars in front of me, refusing to look at the top row of keto cakes. I shifted my gaze to a plate of sugar cookies; and then to the plate of mocha cheesecake. I tried ignoring the keto conversation. And then the customer asked for a key lime keto macaroon; excuse me, a sugar free, low carbohydrate macaroon!!! I silently rolled my eyes. Cakes are supposed to be the epitome of sugar, and the essence of carbs. Keto cake eaters will never have a little lamington dancing around in their brain or experience the aroma and taste of a warm triple layered sponge cake.

image source:jmcadam

It seems to me that making cakes from a keto recipe is as senseless as following the Mediterranean Diet when you’re having a counter lunch. As I understand it, the Mediterranean Diet is inspired by the traditional diets of people who live around the Mediterranean sea; you eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fresh fish, and use plenty of extra virgin olive oil. Before the days of boutique hotels, when a counter lunch was nothing fancy, you’d choose what to eat from a chalk written menu. Every counter lunch menu in every public bar always offered; a mixed grill, the roast of the day, sausages, lamb chops or cutlets, and steak with chips and salad. Long before steaks came with porcini sauce, and kale salad with goat cheese dressing, a counter lunch steak was either a grilled porterhouse or T-bone with grilled onions on top; it was always served with chips and salad. The classic of all counter lunches was the steak sandwich with chips. A good steak sandwich should come loaded up with beetroot and plenty of tomato, onions and lettuce. And it’s always ordered with the lot; bacon and a fried egg. Even today you’d be hard pressed to beat a steak sandwich; it’s a terrific choice if you want something rich in carbs and calories and the epitome of fried.

image source:recipes.com

Substituting fish fingers for the steak in a steak sandwich, and ordering it without the lot, might get you close to the Mediterranean Diet. But if you consider that liquid is an important part of all healthy diets, and that most diets recommend at least six glasses a day, then you could follow the Mediterranean Diet with any counter lunch if you settled for a liquid lunch; just reduce your food intake and spend your time quaffing pots of the golden nectar.

In my day I was known to have a few counter lunches in the public bar at Williamstown’s The Rifle Club hotel. I remember the standard mixed grills, the overcooked roasts drowning in watery gravy, and the workers from the nearby slaughter house. It seemed the workers couldn’t wait to get to the pub for a bite to eat and the opportunity to down a few beers; they were still wearing their work aprons when they descended on the The Rifle Club. It seemed that they filled the public bar; wherever you looked there were blood smeared aprons, adorned with smudged, flattened bits of animal offal and other organs. I never gave much thought as to why lamb’s fry and bacon, brains and bacon, kidneys on toast, and tripe and onions, weren’t on the chalk written menu board above the bar. As I think back, I’ve come to realise that the The Rifle Club hotel would have been an ideal place to offer vegan ketogenic options on their counter lunch menu.

image source:australiangeographic.com.au

There are several craft breweries sprinkled throughout Omaha. Lucky Bucket was one of the first of these microbreweries to become popular, and to have it’s beers available in local supermarkets. It’s said their name comes from the days before kegs and bottles were available; the only way to get beer was to take a bucket to your local brewery, fill it up, and lug it back home. Today, you don’t have to take your bucket to the Lucky Bucket brewery; you just need to take your yoga mat and comfortable clothes. The brewery’s offering Breathe and Brew sessions; a sixty minute yoga class, and beer tasting brewery tour.

Whenever I spent Saturday afternoons sinking a few cold ones with the mates at the Steam Packet I didn’t think about wearing stretchy, formfitting, antimicrobial, moisture wicking yoga gear; I’d be more likely to wear loose and baggy, falling down clothes. I think we all did a bit of yoga back then; we just didn’t know it. We’d do a few arm strengthening poses by resting an elbow on the wet bar towel, and while keeping it on the towel, reaching for our full pot of the golden nectar; we’d then raise the pot to our lips and hold the position for at least five seconds. The routine was finished with a rousing chorus of “who’s shouting the next round”.

image source:visitmammoth.com

Our arm strengthening poses of yesteryear would be detailed in today’s yoga pose libraries under the heading Ardhapurṇa Kuntala; from the Sanskrit ardhapurna, meaning half full, and kuntala, meaning drinking cup. After a few beers went down we’d start betting each other that you couldn’t rest your foot on the bar after lifting your leg up with just a wet bar towel. It was a sort off a variation of the Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana pose. As the afternoon wore on your balance would get either worse or better. If it got better, and you hoisted your leg onto the bar, you could go the rest of the afternoon without buying a round.

Melbourne is often described as the coffee capital of Australia. It’s coffee culture began in the inner city neighbourhood of Carlton. Little has changed about Carlton in the last fifty plus years; it’s still populated with students, immigrants, classic Italian restaurants, artists, and aspiring hipsters. I first drifted into Carlton during my last year at Footscray Tech; when college was starting to interfere with my learning. And it was there that I was introduced to the mysterious lattes, espressos, and cappuccinos being produced by the Faema espresso machines. A flat white and short black are now part of the Australian national coffee ordering vernacular; and part of the cultural fabric of the land Down Under.

CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, along with Hort Innovations, have developed a powder made from imperfect broccoli; two tablespoons of the powder equals a full serving of the nutritious green vegetable. A Melbourne cafe has started experimenting with the powder by stirring it into coffees; it seems you’ll be able to meet your daily intake of dietary fibre, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and manganese with your early morning broccolatte.

Cafe Barista G’day mate; flat white?
Me: G’day; double shot broccolalle
Cafe Barista: Perfect; takeaway?
Me: No worries; and a slice of ketogenic cheescake

I think I need to give some serious thought to starting a Zumba and Pilates fitness group; we’d workout to 60’s and 70’s Australian Rock. After working up a sweat we’d relax in our comfortable rayon workout clothing over a few ice cold long necks of Melbourne Bitter and snack on party pies, sausage rolls, and cocktail frankfurts.

 

Traditional British Butterfly Cakes or Fairy Cakes

Ye Olde Counter Lunch

The Ketogenic Diet: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide to Keto

Dreaming of Deja Vu

When I read that a new stage musical of Groundhog Day is to have its world premiere at the Old Vic in London next year, I thought about the time loop that mum had engineered for herself; repeating the same week again, and again, and again. For as long as I can remember: Sunday was always cake baking and roast lamb dinner day, Monday washday, Tuesday cleaning and vacuuming day, Wednesday soaking the delicates and catch up on the washing, Thursday do part of the shopping day, and Friday was shopping day.

Washing the clothes and bedsheets and anything else my mother deemed washable was a day’s work. The washing was always soaked in cold water at least a day before washing. Mum would sort the clothes before soaking; one of the wash troughs was for the whites and the other for the coloureds. Before we upgraded to a washing machine mum, washed the clothes by boiling them in the copper kettle. We called it the copper; it stood on metal legs and used gas to heat the water. On washing day, the combination wash house and bathroom, which we just called the bathroom because opposite the wash troughs and copper, was the bath with a gas-fired water heater that provided hot water for a shower or bath. It was a small room detached from the house on the back veranda, and on clothes washing day or when you had a shower, it would steam up and become a rain forest ecosystem.

mum's dream washing room

image source:slv.vic.gov.au

I remember the bathroom remodel. A washing machine with a clothes wringer mounted on top replaced the copper kettle, and a stand-alone water heater installed outside the wash house bathroom to supply both the kitchen and bathroom with hot water. Mum now had running hot and cold water for the wash troughs and the washing machine, but her washing process stayed the same. She’d soak the clothes for a day, agitate the clothes in the washing machine in hot soapy water, and rinse and wring them out, at least twice, to get rid of all traces of soapy water. The clean, slightly damp clothes were taken outside into the backyard and hung on the new rotary clothes hoist to air dry. Mum had a bucket she’d use to carry the leftover water from the one day soaking of the clothes into the backyard to water the passion fruit vine and her other assortment of flowering plants.

newport power house

image source:slv.vic.gov.au

We lived one block down from the powerhouse; it stretched from the corner of North Road and Douglas Parade, past the Strand to the Yarra Riverbank, and at least six blocks along Douglas Parade to Digman Reserve. The original powerhouse was built by the Victorian Railways in 1918 to supply electricity for Melbourne’s expanding suburban railways. Later two other power stations were built and integrated into the original structure to construct the largest powerhouse in the southern hemisphere. Brown coal briquettes were used to fire the boilers to produce the steam to turn the turbo-alternators, and when the boilers fired up, the powerhouse chimneys belched relentless clouds of briquette soot over the neighbourhood. And this powerhouse soot was the curse, the bane, of my mother’s washing day life. If the wind was blowing toward Peel Street, mum’s clean, sun-dried, rotary clothes hoist hanging washing would be covered with black grit. A guttural, shrieking, cry of soot, soot, soot would echo the house as mum ran to the backyard to gather the washing to return it to the soaking troughs, washing machine, and wringer.

clothes hoist

image source:pinterest

The Newport powerhouse was replaced in the late seventies with a gas-powered power station; it’s one, long, chimney dominates the surrounding suburbs. And there is no soot.

Everyone in the family acknowledged that mum was a breathtaking all-round cake maker. But it was agreed though that her older sister Peg could make a better sponge cake. After the Sunday roast lamb dinner, the kitchen countertops alongside the sink and those below the window that looked onto the high side fence became mum’s combination baking tables and pastry boards. The countertops were Formica, or what we knew as laminex. Mum was clever and artful in how she planned her Sunday afternoon routine. A light sponge cake and puff pastry recipes were the foundation of Sunday’s baking, and they allowed mum to create her lamingtons and butterflies and vanilla slices and matchsticks.

lamington

image source:tabletopplanner

The lamington, a handheld bite-size piece of sponge cake dipped in chocolate icing and liberally sprinkled with desiccated coconut, is an Australian culinary icon. There are many accounts of the lamington’s creation, but everyone attributes its name to Lord Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. I like the one of it being created from a work accident by the maid-servant of Lord Lamington. Apparently, while working at Government House in Brisbane, she accidentally dropped the Governor’s favourite sponge cake into some melted chocolate. Lord Lamington wasn’t a person of wasteful habits, so he suggested it be dipped in coconut to cover the chocolate to avoid messy fingers. He devoured this new taste sensation with great delight, and the maid-servant’s error was proclaimed a magnificent success by all. And mum’s lamingtons were indeed enjoyed by all.

butterfly cakes

image source:aspoonfulofsugarblog.com

Mum’s used the same light sponge recipe for the butterfly cakes she used for her lamingtons. Her butterflies were created by first carefully cutting and removing a cone-shaped section from the top of a small cupcake. She filled the cavity left in the top of the cake with whipped cream and sometimes jam. She cut the cone-shaped section into two and anchored the inverted pieces in the cream to form butterfly wings atop the cake.

Mum never seemed to weigh or measure any of the ingredients when she was making her baking staples, and the puff pastry for her vanilla slices and matchsticks was no exception. Her vanilla slices would leave you basking in the glory of their wonder. She made the puff pastry and custard from scratch, and when she rested the firm vanilla yellow custard between two buttery pieces of her puff pastry, the result was a stunner. It was insulting to call mum’s vanilla slices by their colloquial name snot blocks.

vanilla slice

image source:pd4pic

Her matchsticks were vanilla slice puff pastry filled with fresh whipped cream and jam and sprinkled with icing sugar. The matchsticks were rich and sweet and should have come with the caution that consuming mum’s matchsticks may produce a sugar overdose, a sugar high, or a diabetic coma.

matchstick

image source:pinjarrabakery

Mum repeated each week again, and again, and again. Sunday was sift, blend, mix, beat, stir, whip, and bake, Monday was washing day, Tuesday cleaning and vacuuming, Wednesday soaking the delicates and catching up on the washing, Thursday part of the shopping, and Friday was the main shopping day.

 

John Fogerty – “DejaVu” (All Over Again)

Home made Lamingtons (Recipe)

History of the Washing Machine and Washer Dryer