Posts Tagged ‘salmon’

Fish fillets and my first card-tapping experience,

April 27, 2019
Image result for Tapping with credit card


Generally we like to eat fish at least twice a week mainly with either mashed potatoes or a salad, often with mashed potatoes AND a salad. Lately we have ventured into mashing the potatoes with creamy milk while adding some sauerkraut. But, as like with almost everything, and a tendency to go all française, when short on allegories, repetition beckons ennui, which is the enemy of maintaining our joie de vivre.

For the fish needs we generally have stuck with salmon cutlets available almost everywhere now, and cheaper than most cuts of meat. However, the salmon now is farmed and I heard some awful stories of the quality of feed that is given to those salmons and the density into which those fish are bred in large round fenced off fish farms with hardly any room to swim. It’s a bit like those caged chicken-eggs. How did food growing become so cruel?

We made a break from the salmon cutlets and bought flathead fillets instead. Now, don’t get me wrong, but at least the salmon cutlets are sold fresh while most fish sold at supermarkets are de-frosted fillets mainly imported from Asian fish-farms. Most fish & chips shops also sell cheap de-frosted fish instead of ocean local fresh caught fish. You would have thought that Australia, with its thousands of miles of ocean frontage, fresh fish would be keenly sought after. But, the price of fresh Australian caught fresh fish can’t compete with the frozen imported fish. The fresh flathead fillets were $56,- a kilo, and I write the price to make a point, not to brag about it. But, compared with fillet steak or lamb cutlets, it’s not all that out of the question. There were cheaper fillets of fish as well and often buying a whole fish and having it gutted and filleted works out cheaper.

On of my favourite and cheapest fresh fish is of course the sardine. Filleted and butterflied fresh sardines in a batter of flower mixed with some salt and spices, baked for a minute or two is regarded a culinary Nirvana in this household. Be careful though often fresh sardines are not all that fresh but are kept into a salt- brine to preserve them as long as possible. As with all fish, look them into their eyes and if they are unflinching, they are fresh. Have you ever looked into the eye of an honest barramundi, they are so beguiling. One almost feels guilty battering them.


Painting of my paternal grandmother.

I bought the flathead at a fish market who weighed them and gave me a ticked of the price and advised me to pay for it at the counter. To my horror I had no cash and as I never pay by credit, I was stuck with my flathead getting warm under the gills. So embarrassing. I showed the girl my empty wallet. She wasn’t silly though and said; why don’t you pay with your card? I have never paid with my credit before but she was most helpful and said; ‘just tap it.’ Which I did and it worked! Can you believe it?

I told Helvi and she was so proud of me. I overcame another technical hurdle and walked tall. I am as good a tapper as anyone now!

The flathead fillets were wonderful.

Potato baked in foil is the only way forward

March 27, 2017

photochevati sausages

We all know we have to keep going. One way is to keep things simple. It is amazing how quickly things can turn complicated. Sometimes we get churned up and on reflection are amazed how we reacted so badly despite having arrived at an age whereby wisdom is supposed to be our domain. We all plod along the best we are capable of. One way forward in giving respite to anxiety and relief from life’s foibles is through the potato baked in foil. It is not just by accident that the word foible includes foil.

For some weeks now this family has come to realize that what has been dormant for many years in our kitchen drawer, the roll of aluminium foil, is now finally being used to its full potential. It was staring us in the face all the time. This last sentence doesn’t seem to follow the rule of logic. Following rules have never featured very strongly, let alone logic..

There is no getting away from the fact that we have to sustain ourselves. Food is just one item of that sustainability. We have discovered that through the week we eat fish at least twice a week.  After having tried different fishes, it is the salmon cutlets that have won out. We get 4 cutlets each week. They cost about $14.- The salmon cutlets are spread out over 2 days but not consequently. We might have a pasta or a risotto in between, just for variety.

The potato in foil is now so much part of our dietary habit that I felt it my duty to inform you why we feel so strongly about this ‘potato in foil’ discovery. It is delicious and dirt cheap. Let me give you the low-downs on it and it is free. I cut two or three potatoes in quarters or even smaller. This depends on the size of the potato. The bigger the potato the more you cut it. I prefer the Dutch Cream potato, even though I became an Australian some years ago at the Sydney Town-Hall. I had a choice of doing the oath of allegiance on the bible or in the name of the English Queen. I thought it an odd choice but the biscuit and cup of tea afterwards, prepared by the Salvos, repaired my suspicions and anxiety somewhat.( but not totally, even till this day)

I don’t peel the potato but that choice is yours. After having cut the potatoes, I drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle some pepper, salt and oregano on them. I wrap the potatoes into 2 packages of aluminium foil and leave them for an hour or so. At about an hour and half before eating, I light the outside gas barbeque, put it on low, and put on the  wrapped potatoes. A red capsicum is cut in half and I follow the same procedure by adding some olive oil, pepper, garlic and herbs of choice. This is added to the top of the barbeque plate about 3/4 hour before eating. NO foil around the red capsicum!

In the last ten minutes before eating, the salmon cutlets are fried,. 7 minutes one side with skin crisp and brown, turned around for another few minutes on the other side. All that is left now is to unwrap the potatoes add them on 2 plates with the char-grilled capsicum, salmon cutlets and just eat it all. Slowly does it. It really is a simple dish, nutritious and healthy and with such little effort.

It is the only way forward.



Fire, fire…

November 27, 2016



Just when I thought to take a break, we had a big fire in our small town. As we left to go shopping a huge black billowing sky-high tower of smoke was churning upwards. It was darkening the sun and moving rapidly towards us. Helvi thought we should not venture out. ‘It scares me’, she said.

Smoke and fire are to me what for others might be shopping or leafing through fashion magazines. I don’t want to cast aspersions onto the differences between the many sexes. The burning down of someone’s property and taking a delight into this plight can hardly be seen as an endearing quality or an enlightening embodiment of sensitivity. The taking pleasure in shopping or interest in fashion surely has a more noble aspect. No matter what indeterminate sex choses one such delight over the other. ( one has to be careful not to fall into the trap of just referring to male or female only)

If I suffer condemnation for seeking out and watching fires, so be it. It is all too late to change now. ‘I want to look at this fire,’ I announced to my wife. ‘Well, leave me home, I am scared,’ she said firmly. Firmly is what she is all about. In the meantime there were sirens and flashing police-cars adding to my now unstoppable curiosity about the fire. This black smoke, ‘It must be a large rubber depot or something,’ I surmised with an air of an incendiary expert. By now lots of kids were rushing by, mainly boys with some smaller children being accompanied by anxious looking mothers. You could tell the mother’s hearts were not really into the spirit of fire-watching.

By now the smoke was in such fury it formed and looked like a mini tornado. It was too late for me to drop Helvi back. With total selfishness and abandonment of common-sense I drove towards were I thought the fire was. I remembered a tyre outlet at the back of Aldi’s supermarket. We were on our way to Aldi anyway. I thought to combine both. Buy salmon cutlets and watch a good fire.

However, here is where it all came to nothing. The roads towards the fire had been blocked, and police were diverting traffic well away from this great fire. The only way would be to park the car and walk. But, so many cars had already done the same. Parking anywhere near the fire was already taken by those who wanted front-stall position. ‘Why don’t you have a look tomorrow, Helvi offered kindly?’ ‘I am sure the firemen don’t want the public hindering their work.’ ‘I am scared and want to go home, she said again. ‘Perhaps you can watch it on television,’ she added.

The fire turned out to be this tyre outlet. I drove by this morning. The firemen were still raking through the remnants of this building. Aldi survived and I managed to get the salmon cutlets just now.

Pity, I missed out on watching it.

Overcoming the Sunday. (Handy hints)

September 27, 2015


Soon it will be dark.  It is reassuring that Monday always follows a Sunday. This is what we must cling too, no matter how slow the Sunday is passing. On our daily walk we noticed even nature was struggling  with a bad case of Sunday gloom. The tulips were a bit despondent with the Camellia buds rotting even better than normal. The morning is usually the least gloomy and for some the best part. Many get the Sunday paper, scan the adds for Fiji holidays or  three metre TVs with inbuilt DVD capability. After that, many will settle for sweaty rugby or tennis ball whacking. The rot sets in after that.

‘Don’t go to Australia my friends warned me back in 1956, there too is the dreaded English Sunday.’ No one ever went to England for a holiday. France, Spain or even Austria and Germany were preferred. As it was, each time we arrived back to Australia our first port of call was Fremantle, worse…  on a Sunday too. The English Sunday always held some notoriety as being very peaceful and dormant, and more than just quiet. Many Continental friends keen to spread bad tidings told us that you could not get a beer on Sunday. Can one imagine? The very day that one would go out with family ,visit a café and perhaps enjoy a beer or even a shifter of advocaat or jenever on the one day off, the Sunday in Australia forbade all that. It would be many years before a beer would be allowed on Sunday.

Of course, all that has changed. England rocks and as young people will is really cool there now. Australia is now being swamped with tourists looking for excitement and space to move around without having to wear oxygen masks or be shot at. Even so, I am still struggling with passing the Sunday. I try and remain optimistic and look for things to happen. The Bowral tulip festival is one good escape, even if just to watch all the tourists. Another one is to prepare for a really complicated dish needing lots of ingredients that you might have to go and shop at Aldi for. Aldi shopping is one of the greatest Sunday gloom escape diversions to engage in. I relish the chance and go each Sunday. Of course, some of you might prefer Woollies or Coles. Each to their own. It all helps and we have to stand together in overcoming a Sunday.

On Sunday many products get down-priced as the date of expiration gets closer. You can observe customers carefully weighing up the pros and cons of getting a discounted meat product against the risk of a bout of intestinal hurry. What to do with a pig’s trotter that is one day from extinction? Or what to make of a slightly discoloured packet of double smoked ham but for a mouth-watering $1.50? Or a suspiciously pale looking salmon cutlet, but for $3.99?  Should it be taken home and the discounted ticket peeled off with the suspicious husband left in the dark. What to do with your conscience, especially after he is doubled over the porcelain bowl heaving and wracked with dreadful diarrhoea? There has to be a limit. Be careful, don’t overdo escaping the Sunday. You would not want to be charged with manslaughter.

Many take to gardening in the Sunday afternoon. The lawnmower taken out. A bag of soil opened, a plant to be potted. Discussions about the state of this year’s Hellebores. Questioning the state of mites on up-coming roses. Is it too early yet for the white-oil? Should the shears be sharpened, the shed re-organised?  The ingenuity of the Sunday escapee knows no bounds. A good husband might offer help in the kitchen. ‘Would you like me to spin the lettuce, darling,’ I overheard our neighbour saying. It was a particularly bad and difficult Sunday but it helped him pull through.

All of a sudden it was 6.30 pm and we rushed to the SBS News. Then at 7,the ABC. A quick glance at e-mail and at 9.30 in bed.

It will soon be over…glorious Monday is knocking.

The sad face of a prawn.

January 24, 2015

imagesMBKFZ0Q3Prawn farms

Everybody knows that tropical fresh water fish are easy to keep and will even reproduce in an aquarium. As a child I was deeply traumatised when our female swordfish kept pushing out little baby swordfish only to watch in horror how those defenceless babies were quickly eaten by the large and naughty black fish. ( I have forgotten its name) Tropical salt water fish are much more difficult to keep and do need much more water to swim in. I never heard of successful breeding of those fish in aquariums. However, if babies get eaten in most cases in aquariums I was glad my salt water fish never reproduced. There is enough murder and mayhem in the world as it is.

Of course large scale fish farming is now practised all over the world. The Tasmanian salmon are bred in very large floating tanks in mid ocean. But, with every step forward there are two going back. Nothing is ever easy. Sharks and dolphins soon managed to leap into those tanks and made a meal out of it. Boy, did they find Nirvana. So happy, they were so happy. The salmon company nearly went broke and almost gave up. They experimented with different coverings and all tanks are now covered by strong steel mesh. For a while the sharks and dolphins kept on leaping but nothing is more off-putting for passing sharks and roving salmon lovers than to look up and see de-hydrated cadavers of their own perished on top of the mesh wire coverings. A bitter lesson learnt just as quickly. They too have known sadness.

I watched a program whereby prawns were farmed in Asia and given dreadful food dredged from the bottom of the ocean and made into dry pellets fed to the farmed prawns. The prawns were force-fed to eat those pellets despite their loud shrieking protests at night, keeping the neighbours awake at all hours. It put us totally off prawns watching a Vietnamese prawn farmer chucking bucket-loads of the dreaded pellets to the waiting hungry prawns.

Whenever we buy anything fishy now we make sure they are Australian bred. In a blind tasting event almost all picked the Australian prawn over the Vietnamese one. This was most encouraging and pleased that at least on our own home-ground, prawns were bred with kindness and care. However, nothing is always perfect. We try and overcome and make the best of this life.
Prawns too know sadness.

The same with eggs. While most caged laid eggs are banned in many countries, Australia is lagging behind. Even so, the tide is turning and even big golden arched M’s MacDonald’s have now decided to go for barn laid eggs. However, here it comes; Barn laid eggs are also steeped in deceit and much cunning;

Chickens too, experience great sadness.

We bought a kilo of cooked Australian prawns from Aldi but they are too chewy, so…what next?

The sadness keeps coming!

Words of sugar and spice.

May 22, 2014


“Don’t forget your appointment with the optician tomorrow Gerard.” “No, I won’t, how’s the coffee, did you sleep well?” “Yes, very good, only went once.” “How about you?” “Oh, I went at least three times, might as well put a mattress permanently in the toilet.” “Feel free! Did you brush your teeth last night or did you have a slice of smoked salmon again afterwards?” “Funny question, Helvi, but yes, I brushed my teeth and yes, I did have a slice of salmon.” I thought so, I could hear the fridge and smell your salmon.” You have strange dietary habits and even stranger methods of hygiene .” “When did you shower last?”

“Jesus Helvi, I made your coffee!” “Can we get a bit friendlier!” G.”Here, hear the latest on the news.” “A sixty seven year old woman on a pension verbally attacked the prime minister on the radio yesterday.” “She also told him she worked at a sex phone service to make ends meet.” Can you believe it?” H.”Trust you to come up with that kind of news.” G. ” Well, why not”? “Lots of lonely men want a bit more than just a coffee.” H. Well, go and give her a call, ha,ha,ha. G. ” Very funny , would you like a second coffee?” H. Ok, but stay away from the phone, ha,ha,ha.” G.” Its been a long time H and things don’t wane just because one get old.” H. “Go and make the coffee and don’t go on about waning. The smoked salmon is hardly an enticement for any nonsense or an aphrodisiac.” “How did the PM react? G. “He winked in a luring fashion.”

H. “Jeez, has he gone nuts?” G. “Oh, the whole media is in an absolute frenzy. I would not be surprised if the PM doesn’t use the sex phone.” “I reckon he’s been pull’n the pudd’n a bit lately, he looked so sweaty and pale last night.” H. “You seem to be a bit excited about all this as well. Go and get me the promised coffee.” G.” Give us cuddle first.” H.”Get fucked and brush your teeth.” G.”Now, you are friendly again, love you.” H. Me too.

Byron Bay 3

May 12, 2014

images16V8MKAUbrewing coffeeWith Byron Bay slowly fading. Here a snippet of an experience at a local RSL club. The experience is not unique and gets repeated a thousand fold every day of the year.

On the way over to Byron we could not stay as planned in Port Macquarie because of an iron man competition having taken any slack in accommodation.( I wonder how many ‘iron’ men ever thought of frying a salmon cutlet on an upturned motel iron like I did) Not a bed in sight anywhere. We had nightmare visions of staying ramrod straight-up in our car all night parked on the highway or lonely bush-track. So, we drove on till Macksville.

After booking in a friendly motel we stayed at before, we decided to eat. We were starving. I could eat a horse. Macksville is one of those rare villages that seemed to have avoided the plethora of yawning car yards or acres of ugly signage. We strolled to the local RSL. We had eaten there before. After ordering we waited and soon our plates arrived. Two rump steaks for son and I, one roast lamb for the lovely H, calm as ever and smiling her Mona Lisa.

As we ate, some couples entered and joined the queue to order their meals. RSL’s clubs give great value. But, where does this value stem from? While some ate, others just sat down in the lounge. The men watched that rough game on the large screen, with an oblong ball rolling around and violent tackles. I noticed the wives sauntering off to a special room.

Those rooms are the same all over at clubs. A garish light and a tinkling noise usually associated with a darkness and nervous tension. They contain gambling poker machines and are loved by thousands. I tried it once when you had to pull a lever. It was in our early marital years, perhaps 1967.

We won some money but in the excitement put it all back and some more. We have never played those machines again. It was clear that they take more than they give. On top of all, it was ultimately a boring past-time. Not much talk, just a mean concentration on a machine that rattles on and on.

I asked H how her meal was, noting a slow eating in process. ” I think this meal smells of sheep”, she answered. “Well, you are eating sheep” I replied with some logic.(but not too much) “Yes, but it also tastes a bit like old sheep”. “Oh, that’s no good”, ” last time you had a lovely Caesar chicken salad.” ” Yes, I know, but this meal is old sheep that are wet and has sheep shearing shed tinges as well”. Her answers just about made me roll of the chair. Still, life is like that sometimes. I loved my rump and so did my son.

Back in the Public Lounge, the ladies had left the gambling room and the men were still watching the rugby.

Ps: I had a lousy, very punishing and smelly rack of beef yesterday and it was mother’s day. Milo had it. I wrapped it up in tons of paper napkins and it still stank out the car. God knows how old the cow was.

Of Cheap Wine &Jigsaw of Apartment living

June 17, 2010

By gerard oosterman

 We were there at the tail end of summer and the wine vintage was in full swing. The region of the Languedoc is one of the largest red wine growing areas in the world. Apart from those working in shops or businesses, everyone else, during vintage, all and sundry are into grape harvesting and wine making. No matter where we went or where we stopped, the streets and kerbs were red with the flow of must and wine. We were stepping in it.

 The local farmers were immediately selling the freshly made wine and for less than the cost of a bottle of milk. The larger the quantity, the cheaper the price was. We ended buying the red wine in a five litre plastic container for which one had to pay a deposit. The drinking of those five litres had to be done fairly quickly because as air entered the container, the wine would oxidize and spoil rapidly. We would soon adhere to the routine of buying fresh trout with stick bread from the local boulangerie, fry up garlic in some very excellent olive oil, barbeque the trout and with the dipping of the bread into the oil and garlic mixture eat the trout washed down with copious quantities of the cheap wine.

 The Languedoc area is the largest wine producing area in the world and this region alone produces more wine than the entire United States. During its frenzied vintage height, while we were there, our shoes and car tyres were red from the flooded roadside kerbs and guttering with the spoils of the wine making. I don’t know how, but during the couple of weeks of trout and red wine consumption I found enough sobriety reading a book found on the shelves in the dining room. It was George Perec’s; ‘Life, A User’s manual’. A  great story that involves a large jigsaw puzzle with people and their lives living in apartments forming the pieces of the jigsaw coming together bit by bit, a marvellous story