About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Darling, I need You
I'm a big, beefy kinda guy. In my younger days I played rugby union, you know, the game they play in heaven. I managed to make the State under age side before my life took off in a different direction. My position was tight head prop, one of the guys that holds up the entire scrum, so because of that and the work I do, which can be pretty physical, it would be fair to say I'm actually fairly strong.

My wife loves that but perhaps not in the way you might think.

Take last night for instance. D wanted to make a cake to take to work. She has this lovely cake, it's almost a slice really, filled with fruit and a special topping made with meringue and custard powder, topped off with grated pastry. Different fruits get a run depending on what's available, it could be peaches, apricots, rhubarb or last night it was half and half, sour cherries and gooseberries. From the jar.

That means the jars pass by me first and I pop the lids, which as you all know sometimes is not the easiest thing to do. Generally anything bought in a jar is not too bad, but anything that has been preserved at home can be a bit of a challenge to remove the lids. So the lid of the gooseberries came off straight away but the sour cherries needed a bit more grunt. Maybe it's silly, but I somehow feel more manly when I do this job for her.

Another thing I do around the kitchen is to pretty much hand whisk everything, mayonnaise, whipped cream, whatever. It just seems easier than dragging out the mixer and cleaning up everything afterwards. I reckon I could take on a Kitchen Aid and get it to smoke point. D takes advantage of this tendency, for rather than getting the mixer out herself, she just hands me a bowl and the whisk and sets me at it; soon there was a lovely thick meringue, a rich golden colour from the addition of custard powder.

But my manly duties didn't stop there, oh no. There was the pastry to be grated over the top. In order to do this, you need to first chill the pastry in the freezer to get it firm enough to grate. D handed me a lump of pastry and a grater. The pastry was feeling a little cold, I gave it a little grate and discovered it was frozen! There would have been half a kilo of frozen pastry that had to be grated straight away, for the meringue topping was in place.

You cannot begin to imagine how hard it was to do, when it was over I was knackered. Manly or not, I think grating frozen pastry is going to be my line in the sand.

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  posted at 7:44 am

At 11:26 am, Blogger Squishy said...

Yes grating frozen ingrediants is totally mans work. I make a cheese ball with a frozen block of philli cream cheese. It nearly kills me when I grate it and since I have been with Dave I have never made one. So thanks to you he will now get the hard work. What would we do without our manly men?

At 12:50 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate grating anything. I usually grate my fingers.

At 1:21 pm, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

It's good to know where you draw the line. It good to know your limits.

At 5:55 pm, Blogger Pille said...

Coincidentally, it's K. who does all the 'manly tasks' in our kitchen - and that definitely involves opening various cans and jars:)

At 11:28 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

AH ya wimp, bloody luxury, luxury, that's wot u got, ha, in moi day me pop wood pick me up when I wos sleepin' by the ankles and stick me 'ed on the belt grider to practice gratin' the cheese, at least three times a week. ha bloody luxury.

At 12:24 am, Blogger Jeanne said...

Hahaha, that sounds like our kitchen where NIck also has to do the more "manly" stuff. He gets to open all jars and do all the hand whisking (a task that's been reduced somewhat now that I actually own a hand blender in THIS country!) - and he peels and chops the butternut. Having bigger hands just helps to keep the damn thing under control! And I agree - grating sucks. The potential for grating yourself is always there...

At 7:28 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi squishy, you can tell him from me that he has my sympathy!

Hi kitchen hand, I did that once grating potatoes, I suppose if it were beetroot it wouldn't matter.

Hi tanna, somehow I think that line will get rubbed out along the way ;)

Hi pille, the worst thing for me opening jars is when I try to open a jar of preserves that I know I sealed and the lid won't budge.

Hi greg, you poor deprived boy, but I think that belt grinder was a bit o' luxury!

Hi jeanne, cutting up pumpkin - shudder. Even though I have a sharp knife it's not easy work and the potential for slipping is always there. Yeah, I think grating is the worst kitchen job there is.

At 9:58 pm, Blogger ilingc said...

Hi Neil,

Your wife is one lucky woman. In my kitchen, I do everything (peeling, grating, chopping etc) and the machines do everything else. All the boy does is the eating and washing up ;)

I am the lioness in the kitchen.. roar! err.. nevermind..

At 1:43 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi ilingc, Helen Reddy would be proud! Time to take your boy on a kitchen tour of duty.


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