Posts tagged Food For Thought

The Beauty in Birdcages

I’ve recently been very inspired by all things ornate and flowery. Maybe it’s my late blooming entry into traditional feminity, or maybe these are just so gosh darned pretty. Either way, it’s resulted in an increasing obesession in birdcages.

It’s such a strange thing, because by definition, birdcages were meant to restrain, to trap, and yet they hold so much beauty – both in their designs, and the birds that they hold.

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6 Ways to Get More Burger in Your Life

Ahh the (not so) humble burger. Ranging from the gourmet to the downright coronary-inducing, the traditional beef burger and all it’s variations have become the comfort food of many, and is a symbol of Western culture.

To celebrate National Burger Day, Chur Burger is giving away 800 burgers today, starting at 11am.

And for those of us who can’t make it, here are 6 ways to get more burger in your life.

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5 Food Mashups That Have Made the World a Better Place

The Cheesiest
Source: Daremoshiranai

Nothing in this world is original anymore, so they say. Well, who needs originality when you can just combine things that already exist! It’s called building on previous knowledge right? So here are 5 delicious food love-childs that have made the world a better place.


1. Waffle Sandwiches

Bruxie Waffle
Source: odonata98

Sandwiches are awesome because they are so easy to eat and waffles are awesome because they are fluffy clouds of happiness with a crisp exterior and the perfect surface area to soak up sauce. And we already know that waffles aren’t just a sweet food – chicken and waffles anyone? So delicious is this love-child that The Huffington Post did a round up! Read all about it here.

2. Cronuts

Cronut (cross-section)
Source: ccho

Created by Dominque Ansel at his bakery in New York, the Cronut is basically croissant dough that has been shaped into a doughnut, then deep fried, filled with custard and iced, just like a doughnut. Now I don’t know what kind of late night munchies created this artery clogging dessert, but it’s one magnificent piece of work. So magnificent, in fact, that imitations have popped up all over the world. People are still queueing up round the block at Dominique Ansel’s bakery, and scalpers are selling these babies at about $100 a pop! So rich I would suggest sharing, you can try a version of it in Sydney at Adriano Zumbo’s patisseries.

3. Ramen Burger

Ramen Burger - TDB
Source: ManEatManila

I’m still not sure what kind of college late night memories inspired ramen burger creator Keizo Shimamoto, but I think that this is a delicious win either way. Many recipes and imitations have popped up around the world, and some of them include involved steps like including egg whites, to freezing the ramen ‘buns’, to other more elaborate steps to ensure a compact bun that can support the patty but still have a nice tender bite to it. In Sydney, On-Ramen has debuted their own version of the ramen burger, to mixed reviews.

4. Chicken Fried Steak

Chicken Fried Steak
Source: Jeff

So this is not exactly new, but delicious nonetheless. Steak is coated just like southern fried chicken, and fried in chicken oil. Paired with a hearty gravy, this dish to me screams comfort. Kinda like a schnitzel, but not! Try making your own with Alton Brown’s recipe, here.

5. Wafflegato

Source: Hungry Go Where

Dominique Ansel has been at it again, this time creating a Belgian Waffle flavoured ice cream, to replace the traditional ice cream in an affogato. While it might not be as big a leap as some of the other food love-childs, this is definitely adding the sense of theatre back into dining, something which I think that we’re sorely lacking. And I can appreciate a little bit of drama. 😉

So have you tried any of these food mashups? What do you think? Let me know about any of your favourites that I’ve missed out!

Would you buy excess food from restaurants?

plate scraping
Source: JBloom

There’s a new app in town: Pareup’s plan is to reduce food waste by creating a “mobile marketplace for excess food”. The idea behind it is that food retailers often throw food away at the end of each day, sometimes because of safety standards, but sometimes because they need to preserve their brand: some prepped food aren’t nearly as good the next day, and quality can diminish super quickly when food is stored overnight. But what if they could make a profit from the excess food?

Would you buy it?

Well, it’s not a foreign concept in Australia is it? Many food retailers – like those little Japanese kiosks that sell takeaway boxes of pre-made sushi, or those Asian food court stalls that sell stir fries out of a bain-marie – heavily mark down their prices at the end of the day, in a bid to clear out all the excess food that can’t be sold the next day.

I know that I keep a constant lookout for these deals: they are fantastic ways to save some money on the nights that you don’t feel like cooking. So maybe the question should be whether it’s the kind of app that we’ll start seeing in Australia. 
Would an app like this help reduce food waste in the industry here? Or are organisations like OzHarvest and retailers who already partake in this practice doing enough?

Currently still in its youth, Pareup has paired up with a few bakeries and coffee shops in New York, hoping to minimise food waste. And that, is a cause that I can get behind. Read the Huffington Post Article here.

6 Things to Avoid When Planning Breakfast in Bed

Good breakfast..
Photo from Dorli Photography

With Mothers’ Day just around the corner, breakfasts in bed are the meal du jour! But hot food on an unstable surface? Excited kids jumping on the bed? Breakfast in bed can be a disaster waiting to happen. Here are 6 things to avoid when planning that perfect breakfast in bed!

1. Forget to feed everyone else

American Breakfast
Photo from Stephanie Kilgast

So you bring in a beautiful breakfast to Mom, on a hand-carved wooden tray for one. It gets placed over her lap, and she thanks everyone. She picks up a fork to begin eating…and everyone is staring at her hungrily awkwardly throughout the rest of the meal. Eating alone is not fun! Why not grab a picnic blanket and lay out breakfast for the whole family to have together?

2. Tall glassware

Photo from Susan Lucas Hoffman

Maybe you want to include a Mimosa to top off the breakfast tray, or maybe you want to garnish with a long stemmed rose in a tall water glass. Either way, tall glassware filled with liquid is your worst enemy when you’re mobile. Tall glassware = high centre of gravity. If you haven’t spilled it already while bringing the tray to Mom, it will spill while she’s having breakfast. Maybe use a low-ball glass instead? There’s also no shame in a covered coffee cup.

3. Biting off more than you can chew

242/365 smoke alarm - loud
Photo from Adrian Milliner

It’s not nice waking up to a smoke alarm going off. Don’t attempt a recipe for the first time on the morning of, with kids and pets underfoot. Not confident about making a hot meal? Yoghurt and fruit parfaits are absolutely acceptable, and something that anyone can throw together! She’ll appreciate something executed well more than an imminent disaster being created in the kitchen.

4. Give her flaky food

Wealthy Bakery Croissant 3-6-09 1
Photo from Steven Depolo

Buttery, flaky croissants may seem like a fantastic idea for breakfast in bed, but when all the little flakes fly out all over the bed, guess who’s the one who needs to clean it up? Besides, she’s the one who’s going to sleep in the crumbs later that night. And icing sugar? Yikes.

5. Serve in cookware

Baking in Cast Iron Skillet
Photo from Susy Morris

Individual ramekins of baked eggs look beautiful, and the frittata that is baked in the cast iron pan may look like something out of a cookbook, but it’s not a good idea to have scalding hot pans and bakeware while having breakfast in bed. See reason #2.

6. Stress out about it

Mother & daugther
Photo from Dimitris Papazimoulis

At the end of the day, Mom just wants to hang out and enjoy the company of her family. An easy, relaxed morning is so much more enjoyable than presenting a fabulous breakfast with a tense atmosphere.

So chill out, and feed yo’ momma! Or you know, mother of your children. I’m sure she’ll love it.


Bread is one of those things – you’re not guaranteed a result even if you are given the recipe. It takes technique, with the right recipe and the right conditions, to achieve the fluffy interior and crusty exterior that is the holy grail of white bread.

I’ve dabbled with bread on and off over the years, but I knew that I would absolutely get back to figuring this culinary puzzle out if it was the last thing I did!!

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Will you waste food to prove a point?

I am an absolute advocate of reducing food waste. Not only is it bad for the wallet – you wouldn’t throw money into the bin would you? – I also find it incredibly disrespectful of people’s hard work in producing the food for you to buy.

But what happens when you don’t believe in the food producer?

I went to SMH’s Pyrmont Growers Markets and bought tickets to the breakfast talk by Matthew Evans.

As part of the admission, I got given a bag of goodies from the sponsors of the event. As you know, I absolutely getting new things to try, but then I saw Barilla products in the bag.

The CEO of Barilla, Guido Barilla, recently made some comments on Italian radio about how he didn’t support gay couples adopting, and how he wouldn’t use gay families in Barilla marketing because they aren’t a “sacred family”.


This then led to huge international furore and a boycott fuelled by outrage. I stopped buying Barilla, but the reactions of others were more extreme, and I saw many posted pictures of Barilla products in the bin.

Barilla has since apologised, but it almost seems like a case of too little too late. I still have an aversion to buying their products, and I’m sure it’s pretty obvious to them what a PR nightmare they’ve created. The only thing that would really redeem them in my eyes is the resignation of the CEO, but that’s another story for another day.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a quandary: do I throw away perfectly useable product that was given to me, just to prove a point? I very nearly did: I was quite blinded by the instant distaste the moment I saw their products in the bag. Then I stopped. I feel equally strongly about not wasting food, and I didn’t shell out my money buying their products, but I still refuse to have that in my kitchen.

So what to do?

I finally decided to donate them to Oz Harvest. They were there, and thankfully accepting food donations, so I dropped it off. I think that taking a stand is a luxury that thankfully I can afford, but if my kids hungry and I was given Barilla products, I’d be hard pressed to say no. So while I’ll not be using it, I’d rather help feed the hungry than to put it to waste.

What would you have done in this situation?

What kind of low life steals plants?

photo 1-1

Some people have pets, I have plants. There is nothing more rewarding to me than to be able to feed my family and friends not only a meal I’ve cooked from scratch, but a meal made with ingredients that I’ve nurtured from a little seed.

So imagine my shock and horror to wake up and discover that in the dead of the night, my plants have been stolen.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Unlike my mother, I’m not the most natural gardener around. I tend to forget – often – to tend to them, sometimes finding them on the edge of peril before I remember to water them. I think it’s more to do with me spreading them at all available places of sun around the apartment, so much so that I forget where they actually are at home. But anyway.

So last year – near the end of summer – I received a basil growing kit as a present. It would be my first time germinating seeds, and I eagerly checked the little pot every day until I saw new sprouts poking shyly through the earth. Much like this.

photo 1

This gave me so much joy that I started planting chilli as well – from seed – in a soup mug. Tacky, I know, but I thought it was cute. Both the plants looked a bit malnourished to start off with – it was getting cold and they were going into hibernation.

But I persevered. They were lovingly kept alive through winter, and kept warm where I could. At one point I even kept a place for them on our heated clothes airer when we had it out. Then the heat hit and my plants restarted, with the basil clearly outgrowing the pot that I had it in. I had no balcony, so I had to find a way to move them outside to get some fresh air and sun. That, and my windowsill was getting really crowded with all the seedlings I managed to grow.

plants layout

A little research online turned me on to milk crate gardening, and a quick ask-around from shopkeepers near my apartment got me a couple of milk crates to grow my plants in. (By the way, shopkeepers tend to be quite happy to help out. Don’t just take milk crates, ask for them.) I was going to have my very own milk crate garden in my car space.

I filled up a crate with soil, and thought to put my basil in one corner and my chilli in the other. What I didn’t realise was that the basil was so overgrown that I couldn’t plant the chilli too, but I could place the little soup mug on a corner, so it could get some sun.

A month or so passed and my birthday rolled around. On my way out to dinner, I stopped by to water the plants. Lo and behold, my chilli plant in its cute soup mug was gone. STOLEN. Needless to say I was upset enough to lose my appetite – and that takes a lot – but I thought that some kid might have thought it was cute and taken the plant.

So I put up a sign asking people not to steal my plants and tried to let it go.

Fast forward to today, and my plants are growing at a rate I’m incredibly proud of (as a non-gardener). I had expanded my little garden to 6 crates, with dill, lettuce, beetroot, tomatoes, thyme, chives, mint and the original basil. I water them daily, and harvest enough to send around jars of pesto to my friends and throw dinner parties.

Imagine then, my surprise when I got downstairs and found this:


photo 3

Gaping holes where my plants were, and the cable ties holding my crates together ruthlessly cut. Not content with stealing my little mug of chilli, they decided to uproot entire plants, and even tried to remove an entire milk crate, with the sign on. Now I won’t even get to taste the beetroot from my garden, and the one tomato plant that was left behind – they took the larger plant – is relegated to a tiny pot back on the windowsill, where it doesn’t have space to reach its full potential. The dill, chives and lettuce have just been hacked off for dinner, and I don’t think I’ll be expanding my garden any further.

This has been an incredibly heartbreaking experience, and I thought I’d share the pain of fellow growers out there who have had their plants unceremoniously nicked from their garden. This invasion of trust now makes me feel like the neighbourhood is no longer safe, and that people aren’t as gracious as they used to be.

I had even thought of throwing a dinner party for my neighbours out of my produce to share the love, but that won’t be an option anymore. I don’t know what kind of low life steals plants – I would have been happy to give away seedlings and produce – but these scumbags exist, and we can only try our best.

Australian Garden Show 2013


I was very lucky to get double passes to this year’s Australian Garden show from Destination NSW and Those who know me know that I’m not the most outdoorsy person, but as part of being obsessive about food, I’m trying to grow my own food.

And summer is approaching, shouldn’t we take advantage of this gorgeous growing weather?

At any rate, I’m trying my luck to see whether I’ve inherited any of my mother’s green thumb. She’s a horticulturalist, so you’d think that I would’ve learnt something after all these years. I remember the amazingly gratifying feeling of eating freshly grilled corn that was harvested from the garden earlier in the day. It gave me so much more appreciation for the food that I was eating.


Lindeman’s had a beautiful tree of hanging garden pots. They were giving out little hanging pots to each person, and a 3 little plants – 1 herb and 2 flowers – for each to plant. You got to create your own little pot, then hang it on the tree with your name till you’re ready to bring it home. I had mint, a marigold and a pansy…but we all know that the mint is what I really want.

They also had plenty of stalls and displays to inspire – I particularly loved the ideas for planting in small spaces. I live in an apartment with no balcony, and so I’m hard pressed for window space, and I’ve currently got a little milk crate garden bed going.


I got some excellent advice from the people selling these seeds on what I can and can’t grow – I can’t grow potatoes successfully in a milk crate for example – and I ended up getting beetroot and a micro greens mix. Microgreens are really just the young underdeveloped shoots of edible plants – this mix had sunflower seeds included – and they had it growing out of coffee cups. SO CUTE! Apparently it takes as little as 7 days for you to have your classy meal topping.

From a food perspective, I’ve just learnt so much. I think that it is so important – if you’re into your food – to not just strive to cook food well, but to also have the best produce to start off with. And if you’re a control freak like me, you’ll start wandering into gardening territory, just so that you can control the produce as well. Now just to wait till I get to harvest my food!!

Note: Tammi from Insatiable Munchies and her guest attended the Australian Gardening Festival as guests of Destination NSW and

Kitchen Hand: When life gives you bones


And by ‘life’, I mean your butcher.

When I buy cut meat from my butcher – diced chuck steak, gravy beef, beef mince – I think it’s fair to say that I don’t expect any bones in it. So imagine my surprise when I opened up the bag of diced lamb shoulder from my butcher, only to find that he’s diced everything (presumably with a band saw) with the bones in. The vertebras and everything! I can see where it happened: he was only selling the entire shoulder of lamb, and I had requested diced shoulder. When he said that he could do that for me, he just went out the back, took a band saw to it and gave it to me in a bag.

Now while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with stewing meat on the bone (in fact, it can be tastier), I chose to buy diced meat because I wanted to make a stew that I could pack to work the next day and eat with ease. I’m not about to try and figure out how to politely and delicately pick meat off the bone and then try and neatly get rid of the bones. Most of the time, there’s a scant half an hour for lunch and I don’t have the time to eat an extremely involved one.

So what do you do when you want boneless meat but you’ve been given bone? Well, trying to bone out each piece is going to take you forever and there can be quite a lot of waste involved. You can just put the meat in the stew as is, but like I mentioned, it’s not exactly ideal, especially if you’re trying to pack lunch for the next day. Well, thank goodness this particular type of meat – lamb shoulder in my case – can take a lot of cooking, nay, it needs a lot of cooking.

Rather than stew the meat in the actual stew for 3-4 hours, I put the meat in the pot and covered it with hot stock. I had some ends of onions from the onions that I was chopping, and some ends of carrots that I wouldn’t eat. So I plopped those in with a bay leaf or two, and simmered for about 2.5 hours. It also works if you have a slow cooker. Then I took the meat out and let it cool a little, and simply picked off all the meat off the bone. It all just fell off! I then started the stew, threw the cooked meat in, and finished it off for an hour or so.

Yes, it is a slightly more involved process, but what can you do? I’m not about complain to my butcher, and I don’t want to waste the meat.

And the stock that you’ve simmered the meat in? Just pour it into the stew, and taste all that added flavour! No dramas, and easy packed lunches are here to stay.