Regular random: five minutes with the makings of a great dressing

Close up shot of garlic, ginger, coriander, lime ... some of the ingredients in Sarah Tiong's Asian Vinaigrette. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Garlic, ginger, coriander, lime … some of the ingredients in Sarah Tiong’s Asian Vinaigrette. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with food programmes on television. I liked quite a few of the old-school “celebrity-chef-cooks-for-the-cameras” shows — especially those involving Rick Stein and the late Keith Floyd. I also loved Two Fat Ladies, with Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright, and anything with Anthony Bourdain — but that was never about the cooking.

I don’t like talent-quest TV and programmes that require a commitment to regular viewing, so shows like MasterChef pose a dilemma. Will my love of food overcome my reluctance to a) watch competitive cooking and b) buy-in for the duration?

Close-up shot of fresh coriander. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

I spy … fresh coriander all ready to use. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

With the current series of MasterChef Australia at episode 24 in NZ — and not even half way through — I’m at the stage of dipping in on the nights when the contestants are making original dishes as individuals, rather than team challenges and replications of guest chefs’ creations. These are the episodes that offer the most interesting food ideas.

Which is a very roundabout way of saying that my Five Minutes of Random this week were spent with the ingredients for a fantastic Asian Vinaigrette that I saw Sarah Tiong make a couple of weeks ago on MasterChef. She served it with Pan-fried Barramundi and Bok Choy. (recipe here). It looked so yummy!

… And tasted fantastic, though I replaced the barramundi with tofu because it was raining so hard I really didn’t feel like going shopping.

And though this is not strictly a #RegularRandom shot — here’s my completed dish.

Pan-fried tofu with braised bok-choy and Asian Vinaigrette. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Pan-fried tofu with braised bok-choy and Asian Vinaigrette. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Five Minutes of Random (the RegularRandom challenge), is hosted by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequently Flying Scientist.

 

Regular random: five minutes with a bowl of mandarins

Still life with mandarins. Japanese laquer bowl containing fresh-picked mandarins.Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Still life with mandarins. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

I so enjoyed photographing the first mandarins of our crop that I thought I’d use the next harvest for my Five Minutes of Random post.

The bowl is one of my bargain purchases from the Asia Gallery and Vintage Fabric Emporium. I love the way the design echoes the colour and shape of a peeled mandarin.

Did the artist who made this bowl take inspiration from mandarin flesh? Close-up shot of laqueer design and peeled mandarin. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Did the artist who made this bowl take inspiration from mandarin flesh? Image: Su Leslie, 2017

And in keeping with the still-life theme, I couldn’t resist re-editing the shots in Stackables to add an “old-painting” effect.

Five Minutes of Random (the RegularRandom challenge), is a weekly photo challenge hosted by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequently Flying Scientist.

From hand to mouth: thoughts on gardening, food poverty and giving a fig*

Straight from the tree. Close up shot of hand holding freshly picked figs. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Straight from the tree. Today’s fig harvest. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

According to contemporary sources (The Free Dictionary, Merriam WebsterThe Cambridge Dictionary), the term “living from hand to mouth” is used to suggest bare survival — getting by on the minimum.

My 25 year old copy of Brewer’s Concise Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (Cassell Publishers, London, 1992), adds a moral dimension with the following:

To live from hand to mouth. Improvidently, without thought for the morrow. The phrase implies the ready consumption of whatever one gets.

I can’t find a reliable source for the phrase (suggestions welcome), but with or without the whiff of moral censure, the term is positively dripping with negative connotations.

Without diminishing the very real suffering of millions of people who are doing it tough and barely surviving in a world of increasing inequality; for a gardener, living hand to mouth can mean something positive — a celebration of the fruits of our labour.

Yet the ability to cultivate a garden is beyond the reach of many, if not most, people. Access to land, tools, seeds — even water — is limited. And those who most need that regular, if small, supply of fresh food, are those most denied it.

So as I give thanks for my handful of figs, and for the beetroot, brassicas, herbs and citrus fruit to come, I also want to acknowledge the efforts of countless individuals and organisations working across the world, in a multitude of innovative ways, to grow and/or distribute fresh food within their communities.

Here are just a few of the initiatives I am aware of in my small part of the world. If you know of such groups in your community, please tell me about them in the comments, or post a link to their websites.

Community Fruit Harvesting. Auckland-based, but increasingly working across NZ to collect surplus and unwanted produce, and distribute — either fresh or as preserves — to charities.

Garden to Table. A New Zealand-wide programme that works with schools to create gardens and teach children to grow, harvest and prepare fresh produce.

Compost Collective. Auckland initiative to reduce organic landfill waste through composting, has become involved with a number of gardening initiatives.

Kelmarna Gardens, Auckland

Wellington City Council Community Gardens

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.


* For anyone who is unfamiliar with the term “to not give a fig”, The Free Dictionary defines it as to not care.

Daily Post Photo Challenge: a good match, take 2

A good match: raspberries and chocolate. Dark chocolate cake with white chocolate ganache topping, filled with berries and ganache. Image (and cake): Su Leslie, 2017.

A good match: raspberries and chocolate. Dark chocolate cake with white chocolate ganache topping, filled with berries and ganache. Image (and cake): Su Leslie, 2017.

It was the boy-child’s 19th birthday yesterday, so I made him this chocolate raspberry cake to share with friends and workmates.

I’m not a particularly confident cake-maker, but am told this one went down well.

Close up shot of chocolate cake, with white chocolate ganache topping and raspberries. A good flavour match. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Raspberries and white chocolate, definitely a good match. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Daily Post Photo Challenge | a good match