Mr Yang’s Baseline

Today it was time for the annual Christmas lunch. Once a year we get together, eat way too much, recall old times, ponder if Richard is using hair colour to prevent the grey and generally have a good time. This year there were a few missing, from nothing more serious than they just couldn’t make it. Indraa was missed as was Glenn, Antoine and Dom to name just a few.

Each year, however, we have noted the proclivity for Mr Yang to engage in a personal battle with the Sydney Rock Oyster population of the local bays and estuaries. Each year it is a fierce battle and a close run result. We were missing one thing, however. We did not have a baseline. As Mr Yang is getting older does he require more oysters or less. More oysters to, er, maintain “vigorosity” or less oysters as he sleeps more now?

How could we tell? We had no baseline. Today, therefore, we paid attention and as the last oyster slid down Mr Yang’s throat we noted and recorded the number for posterity – and the baseline for next years Christmas lunch.


Meal 1 – Sunday Night – Veal and Three Veg

Today was a busy day. I had an assignment to write for a course I am doing, as well as washing on the line and wanted to get to Iron Cove for a long walk to eliminate as much as possible the effect of yesterday’s pavlova and baklava. Compounding this timetable was a Rugby League game on TV (the Tigers losing to the Sea Eagles), the Great (yawn) debate between Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and lastly the Masterchef Australia Grand Finale. This left me exactly a 30-minute window between the end of the football and the start of the debate.

So – simple, quick and not too expensive. Head in the fridge and out came the ingredients:

  1. Two Veal T-bones
  2. 4 rashers of bacon
  3. 4 Royal Blue Potatoes
  4. Two packets of Heinz “Steam Fresh” vegetables (yes, I know – this is probably cheating but we’ve given up throwing out lots of uneaten fresh vegetables so the packets of frozen vegetables provide a very good alternative for us).

So, this was easy as.

Peel potatoes, dice and add to a pan of cold water, bring to the boil then drain and mash with some butter and milk. Season with garlic granules and black pepper.

Season the steaks with some salt and pepper and add to a hot pan – turning the heat down to a medium to hot level. Fry until the cooked colour moves half way up the side of the steak then turn the steak. Cook for the same amount of time, then remove from the pan and let rest.

Stick the frozen vegetables in the microwave and nuke them for a couple of minutes. In the meantime, add the bacon to the pan the steaks were cooked in and cook them.

Serve with the bacon on top of the steak, mashed potato and vegetables to the side.

Total preparation and cooking time was about 25 minutes and the meal consisted of meat, potatoes and the equivalent of nearly two serves of vegetables. Boring and plain perhaps and because of that, only rating about a 6/10 but it certainly fitted all the parameters.

This Week’s Cooking Targets

I set myself a little target for food this week. It was simple really as I have a lot to do this week. I decided that the dinner parameters would be:

  1. Maximum of 5 separate ingredients (or added items)
  2. Maximum of 2 pots used for cooking (lazy and no dishwasher)
  3. Maximum of 30 minutes for preparation, cooking and serving (20 minutes preferred)
  4. Should contain several of the basic food groups and a serve or two of vegetables (er, moderately healthy)

Fortunately, I do not need to perpare for every day as I am out on Wednesday. Thursday is my birthday so a dinner out might also be in order. Therefore, the nights that need to be covered are tonight (Sunday), Monday, Tuesday and Friday.

As I progress through the week I will update the blog with the recipes and the results … and maybe the odd photograph as well.

First post will be Sunday’s dinner.

The Greatest of Tragedies


I’ve gone off cheeseburgers. Really. The last one I had was when I travelled to Singapore and Thailand back in January. Since then, none, zero, nada!

I’m not sure what’s happened – whether somehow subliminally I have gone on to a healthy eating spree. Maybe I’ve become hooked on subway such that I have stopped craving the odd cheeseburger.

Noooooooo, an old habit has died hard!

Ian Winbolt

One of the searches I mentioned in the post Needing to Write and Paint on 24 November 2009 was the term “Ian Winbolt”. This had a familiar ring to it but I could not place the reference (well, there was more familiarity than just the name “Ian”). Today I determined to work out where I’d heard the name before.

It was here.

Yep, Thomo is suitably embarrassed for having forgotten the reference. Back on 9 March 2007 when I was in Jeddah lamenting the lack of any (let alone a decent) Fish and Chip shop in the post No Harry Ramsden’s in Jeddah, Ian Winbolt was the gentleman who commented on the post noting on 19 October 2008 that he:

had the pleasure of eating at Harry Ramsdens Jeddah in 2003, I was in Jeddah recently (summer 2008) and found the building, it is just a shell i.e no walls or windows!! , if you call enquires you can get a number that rings and rings!!

Mystery solved and the search for Ian Winbolt must have been Mr Winbolt himself looking for the Harry Ramsden post.

Masterchef Withdrawal

I came home tonight, cooked the  baked beans on toast, added a fried egg to that, opened a Pepsi Max, then sat down and looked at the TV and wondered “just exactly what will I watch now with dinner?”

Masterchef Australia has finished and so my evenings 6 nights a week will be empty … at least until October when Celebrity Masterchef will be on.

What a great program – and one that proved you could have drama in a show that was “nice” and that kids could (and did) watch and enjoy.

Well done Julie, Poh and the others.

Another Great Burger

12072009078 One of the joys of visiting my kids in the Canberra area is sometimes having to take lunch at the Central Cafe in Queanbeyan. The Central Cafe is kind of famous for the sheer size of the meals here – well, that and the fact that the meals taste great as well.

You all know by now that Thomo’s favourite haute cuisine is a fine burger (well, apart from iced donuts with flash neon lights that say “eat me, eat me” of course) and as I had not partaken of the burger at Central Cafe before I figured it was time that I did.

What can I say? Simply magnificent. At $13.50 it is a burger with everything – meat patty, egg, cheese, tomato, lettuce (two types I believe), bacon, beetroot and caramelised onion served on a bun with some chunky chips. A great burger. If you are looking for somewhere to eat in Queanbeyan and have a hunger, I can recommend the Central Cafe – I promise you, you will not feel hungry after you leave the cafe.

A Hog of a Cheeseburger

A Hog of a Burger
A Hog of a Burger

Whilst I was in Canberra for Cancon 2009, I caught up with Jeffro and Steve. Steve, of course, is an aficionado of the cheeseburger like his dear Dad so we did lunch. We went to the Hog’s Breath Cafe in Civic in Canberra. Hog’s Breath was chosen as I hadn’t managed to eat at a Hog’s Breath yet and it therefore seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

I looked at the cheeseburger on the menu but opted instead for the Boss Hog Burger. That’s the giant burger you can see next to my hand. Two beef patties each weighing about the same as a small cow cooked on a char grill and served inside an Aussie style bread roll. Add tomato, onion, beetroot, lettuce and a couple of slices of cheddar cheese and a most wonderful burger was created.

Chicken Wars

“It’s the chickens Mulloes … they don’t like it up ’em” or similar words came from Jack Africa, one of Doug Mulray’s morning radio show character voices from many years ago. I saw Chicken Wars on Christmas Eve.

We’d been to Coffs Harbour with Mum to buy her the surprise Christmas present of Mamma Mia (and more of that later) and were currently on our way back to her place. We stopped at Woolworth’s at Nambucca Heads for the rest of the makings for Christmas lunch (Thomo was cooking and therefore looking for an easyoption or two). As we walked through theFruit and Vegetable section of the Supermarket we noticed that there were no barbecued chickens. None in the hot food keepers or the big display case. There were, however, many birds rotating in the big chicken cooker.

We shopped.

As we had everything Mum said she was going back to the chicken counter to see if the chickens were cooked as she wanted one for Toby. They were cooked and being unloaded to the display case. There was also a rugby scrum of about 20 people wanting chickens. Elbows and shoulders were being used to great effect and more than once was heard, loudly, the expression “I think I was next!”

The classic line came from one woman however who, after managing to shoulder herself to the front of the scrum, got her chicken fresh from the roaster and exclaimed “goodness – it’s so hot!”

Well hello – what do you expect – it was straight from the Roaster after all!

Seems the Co-op Supermarket in Macksville ran out of hams and had to phone around the region to see if they could beg, borrow or steal more. They had also ordered 300 chickens for Christmas Eve – not bad for a town of 7000 people.

Oh, and yes, we got Toby’s chicken as well – although no chicken wings as both Nambucca Heads and Macksville had sold out of them.

Seoul Food in Ulaanbaatar

“James Brown Park” in the UB Post in an article titled Seoul Food talks about Korean Food in Ulaanbaatar. He notes

I like Korean food. Yes, it is more limited than Chinese as shown to me not long ago when I was shepherding some Korean businessmen around town who had brought kimchee, canned sesame leaves, and hot sauce with them from Korea to accompany buuz and khuushur.

He then goes on to discuss a Korean restaurant on the northern side of town that he quite likes, I guess because of the proximity to his apartment.

Being an Australian and having lived in Korea for many years as well as in Ulaanbaatar for two years, I must admit to having somewhat of a strong opinion of Asian cuisine. The first thing that should be noted about restaurants in Ulaanbaatar is that mercifully there seems to be more Korean Restaurants than there are Chinese Restaurants. Certainly this is the case in the central part of town.

This is merciful as the Chinese food in Mongolia really is pretty ordinary – indeed, in many cases, awful. The best Chinese Restaurant I have found is 30 kilometres out of town at the Hotel Mongolia. A nice location, especially in the summer with the beach and near the river, but a long trip in winter.

As for the Korean restaurants, the one Park speaks of near Los Bandidos is really pretty ordinary. The food there is not so good and even though Park is using a family name that is typically Korean, he cannot be as no Korean I know would hesitate to ask ajuma for more lettuce at a barbecue.

As far as Korean food goes, the Seoul Restaurant probably offers the best barbecues in Ulaanbaatar, including the fusion dish of Barbecue Mutton. Their Chinese food is also excellent. Then just down from ikh delguur (State Department Store) are three Korean restaurants, one of which you would swear you were in a restaurant in the residential areas of Seoul. These restaurants all offer the traditional soup and noodle dishes as well as the Korean “Chinese” dishes.

There are another 4 or 5 Korean Restaurants along Seoul street all serving fine food.

And the restaurants all have English Language menus as well. The most frustrating thing about the menus is that they are in Mongolian, Korean and English. In Mongolian and Korean a dish will be described as Daenjung-chiggae [not sure of English spelling]. In English it will be called “soy bean paste soup”.

Fortunately I read enough Korean to be able to recognise what I want off the Korean menu. My Mongolia friends are always impressed as well when I order dinner in Korean – even the Mongolian girls working in the restaurants speak restaurant Korean.

As for a favourite meal for Mongolian guests, barbecue is good so I usually order them samgapsal or taegi-kalbi or taegi-bulgogi, usually one portion more than the number of us eating (4 people order 5 portions). I also order daenjung-chiggae and bab (and beer or tea). Usually we end up asking for more soup and the soup is an introduction to them to other Korean soups and dishes. All have enjoyed these mixes of food.

All my friends now insist on my ordering dinner at a Korean restaurant. We don’t eat Chinese there any more.