Avocado on a mortgage

You can do this: go out, avo, juice, coffee $25 x 2 or….

  • Ciabatta from Lucia’s at the Market – perfect ciabatta $6.90 does practically an infinite amount of toast, so I’m saying…$1
  • Avocado, one Hass, lovely taste, right size $2
  • Harissa $1
  • Feta $1
  • Lemon 50c
  • Eggs x 4: $2
  • OJ freshly squeezed $2
  • Coffee/tea $1

Cost in the vicinity of $12, rounding up for butter, power, milk…

I don’t believe we need a recipe for this one. For posterity I note that we used biona organic harissa from the UK and it is really nice, none of the harsh vinegar aspect one generally gets from jarred harissa. Due to the situation which developed last time I made it myself, when Manny kindly offered to deseed 70 bird’s eye chillies, we now buy it premade.

It’s so good we’ve been having it for dinner too. Sliced tomato on top is an excellent addition if the mortgage repayments permit.

White beans and chorizo

This ensued after buying San José smoked fresh chorizo at the Central Market last week.


  • two onions, peeled and diced
  • smoked fresh chorizo skinned and chopped
  • ghee for frying
  • white beans – I used two tins of cannellini
  • garlic finely chopped
  • tomato paste
  • half a bunch of spinach, chopped fairly finely
  • a cheddar that melts nicely, grated


Fry the onions until softening, add the garlic and stir a few times without burning,  add the chorizo and fry until it’s getting brown and the onions are fairly soft. Add drained and rinsed beans or dry beans you have cooked yourself. Add water and tomato paste at some point, bring to the boil and then put on a very low simmer for a couple of hours.

Sit overnight. Next day when serving add spinach while the spaghetti is boiling. After stirring the cooked pasta through the sauce, mix in cheese. This is a soupy stew you could serve with ciabatta, but we had it as a spaghetti sauce with parmesan on top.

A couple of bunches of parsley instead of spinach would be good. I had initially meant to cook it with celery, but forgot to buy any, but I could imagine trying that too.

Spaghetti with Italian pork sausage

I don’t really understand what’s hard about pork sausages. And yet, there it is. In Switzerland you can only get horrible Swiss pork sausages even though one might expect a better return for Italian being one of the national languages.

Adelaide Central Market: Marino make traditional Italian pork sausages. They are so good that the rest of it can be very simple.


  • 500-750g Italian pork sausage with fennel (or add a little ground fennel).
  • finely chopped garlic
  • a large onion diced
  • 2 tins tomatoes crushed
  • water
  • butter/olive oil


Fry the onion and garlic gently in the butter/oil until softened. Turn up the heat, add the sausage which you have first skinned (slice it longwise and the skin will easily come off) and stir vigorously, breaking up lumps, until it has lost is raw colour. Add the tomatoes and water, bring to the boil. Then turn down to a slow simmer and cook for a couple of hours.

I guess this must be better the day after – it’s the sort of dish that is. We were not able to wait that long, however, and instead had a first helping of it with fresh spaghetti we bought at the Goodwood producers’ market this morning. From the Grain has a gloriously colourful display of pasta, which, much as my preference is for plain, I found irresistible. We tried a vivid green garlic and parsley spaghetti. It combined fabulously with the sauce, parmesan on top – perfecto.

Something’s wrong with the banks

With his $12 million salary this year, Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev has become the latest poster boy for corporate excess, making 106 times that of an average Commonwealth Bank worker.

Nearly $10 million of his pay was in bonuses, while 25 per cent of the long term portion was awarded for customer satisfaction. from the ABC

Today I queued at the Commonwealth Bank opposite the Central Market. This sort of bank used to have a large line of tellers, but now it is down to one. There was an employee standing near the door ‘welcoming’ people who stepped in. I said to the lady in front of me that it would be better if that man was working instead of standing there.

She was elderly and bitter. She worked hard and paid her taxes for 50 years. Now she is treated like shit. She is treated like shit by society at large who thinks it can’t afford to pay her pension. She’s treated like shit by the bank. The same bank who employs the CEO who has apparently made $4M this year just for his customers being satisfied. How dare society, how dare the bank.

May I assure you, Mr Narev and the Commonwealth bank, that your customers are not satisfied. We do not want to wait an eternity for a teller. Once I had got to see the one teller in a bank which seemed to have lots of employees doing other things, we had this conversation.

Me: I’d like to get withdraw some money.

Teller: Hey, you could link your account up to a card and then use the machines.

Me: I don’t want to use machines, I want to stand in a queue and talk to a human being when I get to the top.

Teller: But you wouldn’t have to wait if you took my suggestion.

Me: If you took my suggestion and employed more tellers, I wouldn’t have to wait.

Teller: Do you have a financial adviser? I can organise an initially free appointment with a financial adviser for you.

Me: I could have said already, not unreasonably, I just want my fucking money. Is that too much to ask. Instead I said no thank you, I don’t want financial advise.

Teller: We’ve got some great Apps you can download to your phone.

Me: thinking WTF, this is how Mr Narev gets his customer satisfaction bonus? By getting this teller to harrass me instead of giving me my money?, said: I’m a Luddite, actually.

Teller: (thinking WTF’s a Luddite, no doubt) gives up. Offers me what I went in for in the first place.

Mr Narev, you should be ashamed of yourself, taking this money. You should employ more bank tellers. You should not use them to try to force services upon the customers.

Society, what are you thinking of? It’s not even your money, it’s her money, this lady who has paid her fair share of taxes and probably a contribution to make up for whatever Mr Narev avoids.

Our elderly citizens are angry. Something is wrong with our society. Something is wrong with a society so greedy for its bank dividends, it will kowtow to the excesses of men (sic) like Narev, whilst treating those they should be honouring like they are tedious interruptions to their time and their financial planning. Couldn’t we do better?


Soy sauce chicken heaven

Yes, it’s true. I lived with a Chinese chef for six years, at the end of which I could cook…this dish. That might not sound like much, but wait until you see how happy it makes everybody and then you will understand that at least I picked the right dish.

Chicken wings – one to two kgs depending on how many you are cooking for and how big your frying pan is. I get the butcher to chop off those rather useless tips, leaving the two meatier parts, still joined together.

Broccoli, peel the stem and then chop the lot.

Oh, and if you can possibly get away with it, chicken livers, to be added with the broccoli. It is the most fabulous addition.

The sauce ingredients:

Good quality dark Chinese soy
Sesame oil
Star of anise

After you have set rice boiling do this:

Heat a large frying pan, add the chicken wings and stir-fry to brown a little. No oil is needed. Sprinkle in a generous quantity of the soy, at least a couple of tablespoons, I’d say, though the brand and size of your finished dish will determine this. Add the sesame oil, sugar, star of anise and stir vigorously, stll on a fairly high temperature, but don’t burn the sauce. Add water as soon as you feel it is necessary. When the dish is boiling vigorously, turn heat down, but keep it at a strong simmer. Check now and then to add water if necessary. You want the chicken sort of covered to begin with but a concentrated sauce at the end.

Turn the chicken at least once so that it gets that lovely soy brownness to it all over.

When the chicken is cooked, maybe half an hour – it is wings, so you can’t overcook them and you want them sufficiently cooked that they come away from the bone without a struggle, the bone should slip out of the meat – add the broccoli (and liver, I hope). It can sort of steam on top (mix in the liver). You might have to bring everything back to the boil again as this will cool it down, having the broccoli added. Stir the broccoli in as it cooks. When it is done to your likeness – it is nice ‘overcooked’ by Chinese standards, if that is what your guests will prefer – take off the heat.

Turn into a large serving bowl with a ladle for the sauce. Rice is in a separate bowl, or even in the saucepan at the table. Keep it hot.

Make sure each guest has a finger bowl and serviettes. A small Chinese bowl will do. There are two ways to make this. One is to use tea: a little tea at the bottom of each bowl and boiling water on top. The other is boiling water to which lemon juice is added.

A bowl for bones, there are plenty of them!

Good Chinese tea – it is worth paying through the nose for.

You’d think silence is a neutral thing but it isn’t. The worst silence I’ve experienced was that of a house of some drug addict friends of mine. You had only to walk in the door to feel the dis-ease of the silence. The silence of blissful eating is the thing I think of as being the exact opposite of this. It is such a compliment, that silence which takes over when you put good food on the table. It means more than any comment would.

This is one of those everyday, as opposed to restaurant style, Chinese dishes. There are a million variations, this is just the one I learnt.

Wherein I eat rabbit

Marta took me to Rive indoor market: I’d always assumed I couldn’t afford to buy anything there, but as I watched her purchase three pieces of boned and stuffed rabbit for 7.50CHF each, I couldn’t resist.

As it happened, I had some left over sauce in the fridge from panfrying some chicken in shallots, white wine, garlic, lemon and olive oil. Browned the rabbit as per instructions, added the sauce, popped the lid on. Twenty minutes later… Meat is such a treat when rarely eaten.

Potatoes were the obvious accompaniment, but the larder was lacking. I went instead for a salad of rocket, strawberries and pecans with a dressing of aged balsamic and as usual ‘best olive oil you can afford’.

Thinking about it, I like the idea of this risotto on the side: it has the slight sweetness as an ongoing theme of the prune stuffing of the rabbit.


Brown sauce noodles

Needed to turn the contents of a rather empty fridge into dinner.


  • Thai rice noodles, dried.
  • boiled chicken
  • rocket
  • boiled potatoes
  • for the dressing in the ratio 4:2:2:1, thick plain yoghurt, sweet Thai chilli sauce, a chutney (mine was peach), Chinese soy sauce. Mix


Cook the noodles, mix everything. Serve tepid/room temperature

For me the point was that the dressing coped with a rather desultory little band of ingredients. Tasted great. But it is brown. You do have to face the fact that you will be serving and eating a brown dish. Everything in the dish will be brown, the net effect is brown. Don’t make this if you dislike eating things that are really quite….brown.