Thursday, May 6, 2010

Eye of Newt etc.

How many ingredients go into your average cauldron? Well, into your supper? I went to see the local doctor yesterday, and the subject of diet came up (not literally, merely in conversation). He's nice bloke with a fondness for Arthur C Clarke (I must give him SLOW TRAIN TO ARCTURUS to read) and he gave me the line about their only being one healthy diet - the pyramid with I forget now 5-7 fruits and veggies at the bottom and a small volume of protein at the top... a diet which he obviously considered atypical. I've always wondered about quantities in these diets, as I did in the bit of research that showed that average meals had decline from 11 items used to prepare to just 7. Hmm. We don't eat a LOT of anything... but I did a count of last night's supper for eg. Fishcakes, tomato relish, salad, noodles. or to break it down: fishcakes - Fish (wrasse -have to use it somehow), salt, Tasmanian pepper, 1 egg, breadcrumbs (and as I made the bread - yeast*, milk powder*, canola oil*, oats*, flour*, salt*, sugar*) green pepper, onion, garlic, parsley, thyme, chili pepper. All of the vegetable/herb ingredients are fresh.
tomato relish: tomato, onion, chili, vinegar*.
Salad: lettuce, spring onion, snow peas, tomato (THE tomato), beetroot leaves, cucumber, fennel leaves and pumpkin seeds* dressing.
Noodles - out of a packet.
Items with a star * didn't come from the island, and we paid for. We're working on it. Definitely do salt soon.
So we used 30 items...
OK - we can eat steak and potato for a few days:-)

In field of reputation enhancement B has been hard at work. She decided to walk into town yesterday afternoon to the library. And en route home spotted a bottle that some litter-lout had tossed out of the window. Being Barbs and being offended by it, she picked it up. And in the fashion of Island life, in 50 yards to our gate 5 cars passed and she waved at them. It was only when the last - policeman Pat in his Police Ute - stared rather hard at her and nearly drove off the road, does it occur to B that... it's a BEER bottle that she's picked up. And in Australia you're not supposed to drink in public, aside from the fact that people might assume you're walking back from the pub in no state to drive. And she doesn't even drink beer. It was one of those times when she wished, desperately, that the policeman HAD stopped. Breathalysed her even. Ah well. All things considered they'll just have to get used our eccentricities, and if that includes believing we wave beer bottles after our afternoon trip to the pub... so be it.


  1. SWMBO goes for the varied ingredients trick too. Tpyically we have over a dozen (sometimes more than 20) in our evening meal plus fruit, milk, cheese, bread, cereal, coffee etc. for breakfast and lunch.

    Of course we tend to eat a lot of the same things each day, as well as the basics like bread and milk, garlic shows up most days and sometimes twice a day, as do cucumbers, tomatoes and onions.

    What we don't do is adopt the hunter/gatherer method of acquisition - the supermarket once a week does it for most things.


    My mother did Barbs' trick on many occasions including one memorable one where she forced my father to help her carry the bottles in Italy. So the two of them are walking down this country lane with half a dozen misc bottles of booze to the great crogglement of the locals passing, especially since my father's a priest and was wearing his clerical dog collar at the time....

  2. I am now thinking of getting a bag, clearly labelled "Litter" and walking everywhere carrying it! Actually there is very little to pick up here, the only other thing I saw was a Fanta can. And that was in a 2km walk.

  3. Oh Francis! Oh for a camera. The expressions. Mind you in Italy, with various dishes named after greedy priests... it might be more expected.

    Our diet is long on garlic and many of the same ingredients - but there are a lot of them.

  4. A thought on the dehydrated cream of mushroom soup. My buddy who has the deer camp uses quite a bit of it. I asked him to ask his wife what see buys. She either buys Knorr or a 1 lbs package made by "Frontier Co-Op" that she buys at Atkins Natural Foods ( a local chain). It makes 3/4 cup from 2 tablespoons of powder.

    It appears, however, that only the Knorr's is available in Oz and then only in the cup-a-soup type packaging.

    I wonder if they (Oz customs) would let us send you a pack?

  5. Quilly, the stuff I used to use in SA is exactly the same stuff, exactly same brand (probably from the same factory). But Oz Customs takes a dim view of any incoming foodstuff, even factory packed. I suppose I can understand why. So thank you, but please don't. I really am trying to keep my nose as clean as possible from even accidental offenses (I don't think I'd be liable, but who knows how the minds of those who make these laws work?).

  6. Pasta with chicken and sauce Thurs. evening:

    Onion, mushrooms, tomato sauce, chicken stock, diced chicken, diced bacon, diced red pepper, salt, Italian seasoning, olive oil; capers and diced black olives added prior to adding pasta and tossing in sauce.

    Hmm... [counting] ... 14 ingredients; five servings, plus stuff nicked by SWMBO as I prepped, so add one canape to that, eh? ;)

  7. An average of 7 ingredients per meal sounds boring to me. Even the relatively simple and quick supper I made the last time I cooked had more than that - chicken, sweet chili sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, broccoli, celery, long hot pepper, bamboo shoots, rice, peanut oil . Many of the meals I make have more than 7 spices and herbs, never mind the rest of what is in them.

    In my experience many people don't really cook. They open packages and heat what is in them. That results in a dramatic decline in items used per meal.

  8. Well, Katrina, I do think 'pre-prepared' meals are a factor. Not everyone enjoys cooking or knows much about ingredients - I do and I keep trying to learn more (and it sounds as if that chicken was cooked with some knowledge) - so I like to cook with loads of ingredients. But I guess if it's not your intrest and cooking food is just a chore that needs to be done, well ingredient numbers will fall. But from the health point of view it's best in my opinion to give your body a good range to pick and choose what it needs.

  9. Yes, I'd say some knowledge went into that chicken. It is an easy recipe, but not one that most people I know would ever use. (You can find a version of it with different veggies here

    I agree that it is best to give your body a wide range of ingredients to pick and choose from. I don't think we come close to knowing exactly what our bodies need. Increasingly, research is showing that spices and herbs are important additions to our diets in addition to the veggies they've been telling us to eat for years.

  10. Katrina - that makes sense in a way - the scents and flavours of herbs and spices are indicators of concentrations of aromatic compounds - often relatively rare and unusual. There must be an evolutionary advantage in picking those smells as 'nice' (if you think about it the smells themselves are just indicators to us, associated with 'nice'somewhere in the brain. Interesting idea.