The Three Little Piggies — From Swine to Sausage

For a year over 2011 and 2012 Mark Zuckerberg only ate meat from animals that he had personally killed in an attempt to remind himself what it means to eat meat. In the modern western world most people are completely disconnected from the food they eat. It’s so easy to get food that is ready made, or vegetables that have been picked, washed, peeled, chopped, and wrapped in plastic. If you’re a city dweller without connections, it’s very difficult to get your meat the old fashioned way. Meat bought from the supermarket or butcher is ready to go straight into the pan. If it wasn’t for the label, most people wouldn’t even know what they were eating. Actually, even with the label most people have no idea.

La matanza del cerdo – the killing of the pig – is an old tradition in Spain. But unfortunately, it’s not as common as it once was. In days gone by, it was common for small villages to get together once a year, kill a few pigs, and divide up the meat between the villagers. For one of my friends, this is still a family tradition in the mountainous country of northern Catalonia where her family lives. Earlier this year, Rob and I were lucky enough to be invited.

29/02/2014, 12:00am – Vic, Cataloña

The house

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Parsley Butter

01 Cover

Leftover herbs. It’s hard to know what to do with them and I hate to see them go to waste. Parsley butter is a great way to use them and it gives an elegant twist to many simple dishes which can be served on the side, or as separate courses. For example:

Over lowish heat: sauté mushrooms in parsley butter until juices have been released and evaporated. Adjust seasoning and acidity (lemon, S&P). Serve.

An alternative to the above is to cook the mushrooms in extra virgin olive oil first and then add some parsley butter within the last couple of minutes of cooking. The flavour is quite different. The following can also be fried in parsley butter with good results: diced carrots (low heat for 30 or 40 minutes), potatoes (chopped to 1cm cubes, though in this case I would suggest cooking them in oil first), whole asparagus tips, or whole green beans.

If you’re concerned about your health, check out this video of Dave Asprey eating a stick of butter and talking about the health benefits. You could also go the extra mile and make your own cultured butter. Here’s a recipe.

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Roocipes – 80 of Australia’s Best Kangaroo Recipes

Aussie Silhouette
Roocipes – 80 of Australia’s best Kangaroo recipes.pdf

“This land is cursed; the animals hop not run, birds run, not fly and the swans are black not white”. SO WROTE one of the first Europeans to set foot on Australia, Dirk Hartog, as he sailed away from the west coast in 1688.

I can’t wait to get home and embrace the native foods of my home country, something I hardly did when I lived in Australia.  I recently found this PDF floating around the internet and it looks like it’s got some pretty interesting recipes.  It’s mostly fusion food, but exciting none the less.

Poached Eggs, Harvard Style

Eggsplosion II

To me the poached egg has always been the most delicious, but also most annoying form of the egg. I like the egg whites to be only just cooked so they are still soft, and the egg yolk to be just runny enough for me to spread it over my toast like soft butter. The only problem with poached eggs is that they are a pain to cook. There is a downside to every recipe, and good advice on cooking a poached egg is hard to find.

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Fat Fat Fatty!

Brie fondant aux pommes et sirop d'érable :)

Everyone knows that olive oil is good for you, but no one actually seems to believe it.  I hear a lot of people comment on the amount of olive oil I use (think Jamie Oliver).

The reason olive oil – extra virgin olive oil in particular – is said to be good for you is because it increases HDL (“good” cholesterol).  But, it turns out that saturated fats increase HDL more than LDL (“bad” cholesterol).  Maybe saturated fats aren’t as bad as most people think.  I don’t want to turn into a science bozo, so I’ll just skip to the point, where I quote Nathan Myhrvold1 in Modernist Cuisine:

A meta-analysis of all prospective cohort studies published before 2009 finds no significant evidence linking saturated fat consumption to cardiovascular disease.

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Pig Trotters and Roast Veg

Yesterday Rob and I tried to cook pigs trotters (aka hooves / feet). It was partially unsuccessful. I say partially because it was only the trotters that were horrible. The vegetables were amazing. We followed just the trotters part of this recipe: http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/tv-show/come-dine-with-me-recipes/honey-roasted-pigs-trotters-recipe

The most confusing part was step 2: You will know when they are ready when the meat starts to fall away from the bone when you prod them… What meat?!? There was no meat on this thing. I ripped it appart – caveman style, as is tradition – and in the very centre of fat, gristle, and bone was a tiny strand of meat. It may have even been something else, I’m not quite sure. It didn’t even taste that good. I should have known that this isn’t what trotters are best used for because the results of googleing “pig trotters recipe” mostly featured simmering.

After the disappointing dinner, some of the Spaniards at the hostel told us that they usually use trotters to flavour broth for lentils. I think if used this way, trotters could be really good. One day I will get around to testing this.

The upside of the meal was the vegetables. I got Heston’s In Search of Total Perfection (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Total-Perfection-Search/dp/1408802449) from the library and we used part of the recipe for roast chicken. This book is Heston’s search of the perfect version of a few common dishes. Usually the recipes are too cumbersome to do regularly, but sometimes you can find little gems that you can use regularly, like the carrots in this recipe. Basically, roughly chop carrots and fry in butter on a low heat for 30 mins. Salt. Serve. We also followed the recipe for broccoli, which was also probably as good as broccoli gets, and also roast potatoes. The secret to the potatoes is to boil them in salted water first, then roast them in lots of oil until they are crispy. Next time I do roast potatoes I will follow this recipe, except using less oil. Stand by for results.