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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Sunday, January 21, 2007
Close Inspection

Before this weekend's rain, I was walking past a local turf and irrigation supply business. What they have done is to take the nature strips and original flower beds surrounding the premises and turned them into lawn samples. For instance, there are couch, buffalo and Kentucky blue grass plots amongst others, the idea being you can read the sign on each plot that outlines the best growing conditions for each grass, have a look at the turf and decide which one is for you.

Now that we are on stage three water restrictions, no one is allowed to water their lawns except for those who have had instant turf installed, whereby they have a six week exemption to water but only at specified times. So all around town are dead and dying lawns and the turf plots at this business were no exception, so you could imagine how stunned I was to walk past and see a vivid green plot amongst all the other browned off ones. Thinking that it must be newly laid and therefore with a watering exemption, it demanded a closer look.

It looked wonderful, all lush and thick, inviting a feel so I walked across to read the sign and touch it. When I got to the sign, I laughed to myself....it was synthetic grass! I suppose if you supply turf and irrigation equipment, you have to find something to sell during a drought. Even though I prefer natural grass, this stuff looks pretty good.

Growing Pains

You know the drought is biting hard when the Potato Sisters, from whom I regularly bought 10 kg bags of spuds for $12 six months ago, are now charging $17 a bag, though to be fair they did point out that summer spuds are a little more expensive.

Instant Karma

Now that Menu for Hope is over for another year, in a nice piece of karma, Ed from Tomato, who helped me with the photos of my cherry vodka prize, bid for and won the selfsame vodka! In an even more impressive bit of karma, just after I dropped off the prize to his house I went shopping. Because it was stinking hot and dripping with humidity, a little visit to Coles Vintage Cellars was in order for some beer and premixed drinks, anything cold and wet. Up to the register I went to pay and the chap serving me asked whether I liked champagne.

Long time readers of this blog know the answer to that one and when I replied in the affirmative, he produced a bottle of sparkling wine from under the counter and told me it was mine - gratis. Okay, it wasn't champagne but it was a magnum....all mine and for nothing!


I had to come to work today and while I'm waiting for a job to finish, decide to have a souvlaki for lunch. A shop not far from here makes a very good one, but have the maddening habit of slicing off the meat from the spit, placing the meat on the hot grill and chopping all the pieces small. I really like big pieces, so today I asked the person serving not to cut the meat. His eyes widened and he looked aghast. He explained that the shop did this to make sure the meat was thoroughly cooked, because when you have a big lump of meat, some of the interior is at the right temperature for bacterial growth until enough meat is sliced off and the interior meat attains the right temperature to kill of the germs.

I told him he could cook it some more but leave the pieces big. He agreed and the whole time the meat was on the hotplate his spatula was nervously pressed on top. You could tell he wanted to give it the chop and he didn't move an inch the whole time, just an occasional spatula twitch. Well I can report the souvlaki was excellent and I'm still alive.
  posted at 2:45 pm

At 8:09 pm, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Whee! So glad you survived the souvlaki! I was on pins and needles for a minute.
You get a magnum for free! I was given a free roasted chicken as I checked out of Sam's just before Christmas! Ummm, the magnum would have been nicer.
I knew it was going to be artificial.
I like randomness.

At 3:19 am, Blogger Kalyn Denny said...

Glad to hear you are still alive! I can sympathize with the drought. We had a drought here for about five years straight, but I think it's officially over now. Many people in Utah switched to low-water plants for landscaping (it's called xeriscaping here, but that might be a Utah word, not sure.) The low water plants can be attractive enough, and truly Utah is a desert geographically so it makes sense, but they're horribly expensive. Not to mention the incredible work of digging up all your lawn and installing the new plants. So for the last five summers I paid about $100 month to keep my lawn and garden alive. (Please do not turn me into the environmental police for this confession. At least I was eating the food from the garden.)

At 8:36 am, Blogger Gigi said...

They are doing some incredible things with artificial turf these days. Our city council is trying valiantly to get us all to put the lovely emerald green stuff in, but of course we resist and water promiscuously. And the rabbits reap the rewards.

I am dying to know why you got the magnum free. You must have wonderful karma. :)

At 11:30 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He probably thought you were from the Health Department. I used to get souvlakis from Twins in Lygon Street and haven't had one since they closed down. You can't beat a good souvlaki.

At 6:24 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, chicken and sparkling wine, we could have had a party! I could even bring spit roasted lamb to pad it out.

Hi kalyn, xeriscaping, never heard of it, you might be right, perhaps it is a local word. It sure does make sense to plant cacti in a desert setting and some of them are pretty spectacular. Our drought is now in its tenth year, which is our equal longest dry spell, hopefully it will break soon. Up north the monsoon is going well and our recent rain came direct from there. My lips are sealed....

Hi gigi, I guess nobody likes artificial but this stuff looked really good, perhaps if the Government offered rebates....
I wanted to ask but that might have been looking a gift horse in the mouth!

Hi kitchen hand, simple, tasty and sort of healthy fast food. I'm not sure about the health thing though, I could be wrong, but I seem to recall Lambs just sliced their meat staight into the pita.

At 1:51 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad it rained this whole weekend that's just passed. It was miserable (and we stayed home all weekend) but at least it gave the garden and the plants bit a water and now it looks more alive than before (even the nature strips look more alive with weeds and all).

We've resorted to having a bucket in the shower to catch all the cold water that comes out before the hot water kicks in just so we could water the herb pots and Alv's mum's chilli plant.

Your randomness post has been a very entertaining lunch read :)

Now... back to work...

At 7:34 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the water restricted world we live in synthetic grass certainly makes sense. At least we like to think so! Take a look at our Web site www.newgrass.com for more information.


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