Sunday, April 11, 2010

Life on the egg


Abel & Cole selection circa 2007 by Pants


Yesterday my lovely Italian neighbours (hello there Italydownunder readers!) brought me over a huge bag of their perfect spinach and some of their lovely home-laid eggs. I should clarify that they didn't lay the eggs themselves. I note with awe that Italians can do almost anything but even I know they probably can't yet lay eggs. The eggs were from the chooks back at their main home in Dandenong. Usually I get eggs from the local grain store where they sell 'chook' eggs. For city folk these come from chickens who poke around in country people's back yards and live normal chicken lives. There is a big difference in taste between these and commercial 'free range' eggs.

The eggs will come in handy as I was down to the last one. I briefly considered asking Barney to sit on it. He would have. Since he's come back from Dubai he's been like an owly-cat on a hot tin roof. I think I'll make scones with it instead. I was short on eggs because last week I cleaned up on end-of-days vegetables from Safeway and made bulk quiches for the freezer. Not that the freezer is particularly partial to quiche and neither is Barney for that matter. All the more for me. Hoorah!

It's come to this I'm afraid. The word 'income' is pretty much redundant at Pant Bank now. But then I've always had reasonably modest tastes. The above collection of vegetables was one of my weekly boxes from the adored Abel & Cole company who used to bring gorgeous organic, and mostly locally grown vegetables to my London flat for a modest amount of money. I was so thrilled with this assortment that I photographed it and immediately thereafter looked up recipes for celeriac. There is no excuse in the age of the internet not to experiment with vegetables.

I loved Abel & Cole because there was often a vegetable in the box that I hadn't seen before. You can deselect vegetables from your preferred list but only if you know they exist. Who knew there was a variety of beetroot that looked like tinned asparagus? Celeriac turns out to be quite a useful vegetable. You can bulk out stews with it or mash it in with potatoes. A tip for mums with vege-hating youngsters - you can throw any vegetable into a pasta sauce as long as you Bamix it up so that there are no 'bits' visible. If it's smooth and the colour of ketchup, kids will eat it on spaghetti.

A couple of weeks ago, I reported that I'd mowed the lovely Italian neighbours' front lawn. They hadn't been to the house for a couple of months and the grass was about a foot high and I was afraid they'd get into trouble. In Australia, as in most of the developed world, authorities compensate for their impotence when it comes to dealing with big criminals by hounding the rest of us over trivial matters. Larrikin's End is disproportionately well-manicured and I can only assume there is a rigorously enforced local statute behind this high level of community discipline.

My neighbourly gesture was ill-conceived. As I'd only been mowing for a year, it was clearly madness in retrospect. After my intervention, the state of their lawn suggested that Edward Scissorhands had been engaged as head gardener. But all things considered, it probably was better than nothing, especially if there was a fine looming. The neighbours took an overwhelmingly positive view, thanking me profusely and showering me with home produce and offers for future edge trimming. Admittedly my edges leave much to be desired. Clearly I benefit from the low expectations I project as rising above them only seems to require an inept stab in the dark with a cheap lawnmower.