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Edible flowers

24 Jan

The weekend was very, very hot.  31 degrees to be exact.  Nothing as bad as Singapore but it’s pretty high for around these parts lately.  This was also evident at the markets.  The fresh vegetables and fruits were deteriorating fast and selling very cheaply.  $1/kg tomatoes, $1/kg bananas, $1/kg pears….  It was a field day for us!  The best buy I got was 3 boxes of edible flowers for $1!  Not that I knew what to do with them but at $0.30 a box, I wouldn’t have wasted too much money if it turned out to be a terrible buy.  If I don’t try them now, I’d probably never try them.  So I ended up with 1 box of begonias, 1 box of marigolds and 1 box of zucchini flowers.

Once I got home, I realised why they were being sold so cheaply.  Any longer in the heat, the flowers would have deteriorated so badly, it wouldn’t be worth a cent.  Trusty ole google came to the rescue to help me decide what to prepare with the flowers.  What I found were:

  1. Zucchini flower patties
  2. Begonia salads
  3. Marigold buns

The begonia salads seemed like the most straightforward dish and fit right in with our dinner menu.  So I set off to work on that.  Not having the ingredients of any recipe I trawled up from the web, I concocted my own salad.  Bubs was terribly excited to see flowers on the plate and I had to do a hurried picture (which explains the blurriness) before he spilled the whole dish.

Verdict?  Begonias have a citrusy, sourish taste and definitely beautify a dish quickly.  It’s a bit of an acquired taste and I found it best balanced against the sweetness of the carrots and the freshness of cucumber.  It went quite well with a sweet vinagrette that I had in the fridge.  I may buy it again if it were going for a song but it’s not going to be a permanent feature on my repetoire.

The next day, I had planned to cook the zucchini flowers.  I then understood why it was recommended that one cooks and eats the flowers on the day itself.  I did toy with idea of stuffed flowers but fortunately didn’t decide to do that as a good portion of the flower petals had disintegrated despite careful storage.  So the patties were great as they required chopped up flowers.  But it also meant that I had so few patties that everyone could only have 1 patty each.

Verdict?  There is a light fragrance to the zucchini flower and a mild taste to it.  The bubs definitely loved it (and pounced on it, persuading all the adults that he HAD to have it all) and that is a definite bonus.  Unfortunately, there are no photos as bubs refused to surrender a single piece for photos.

I still have the marigolds in the fridge.  Am trying very hard to look for another recipe for them instead of the buns.  The recipe doesn’t sound all that yummy and I’m not keen to waste ingredients just to use the flowers up.  Anyone with any ideas or suggestions?  There’s always the back up of marigold tea but that seems hardly exciting!

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Non stick cooking ware

26 Oct

It was only when we came to Melbourne that we bought non stick cooking ware.  Mainly because they sell these ridiculously cheap mega sets of kitchenware and most of the items were non stick.  Back home, my wok was the cast iron sort and my pot, the stainless steel kind. So what is my conclusion having used non stick cooking ware for a while?  I must say, I’ve got mixed feelings.

First and foremost, there’re all these articles on the internet about perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)—also known as C-8—a chemical used to bond the nonstick coating to the pan. There are claims that in animal studies, there is an increased risk of cancers and low birth weights and so on from PFOA and there are also toxic fumes that could be released at high heat.  However, there has been contention about PFOA even being present in cook ware – it is said to have been destroyed in the manufacturing process.  So I suppose there is no conclusive evidence per se about the safety of non stick pans.

But there is no denying the relative advantages of the non stick pan – the use of minimal if not no oil.  I fry my pancakes without any oil at all and they come out nice and washing up is easy.  But the advantages end about just there.  I can’t use any metals on the cookware so that I won’t scratch the surface and I can’t use abrasive cleaners and sponges on them either.  Let’s face it – non stick pans DECREASE sticking.  It doesn’t actually mean no sticking!  So when the sauce caramelises and sticks to the pot, I’m filled with a little (if not a lot of dread) because cleaning can be tricky.  Having said that, I’ve come to realise that if some water is added to the pot straight after cooking and heated, the stuck down stuff comes off quite easily.  And that brings me to the other problem.

I’ve warped a couple of my pots and pans.  It’s not such a big issue if we use a gas stove.  But our apartment only has hot plates!!   I didn’t realise what had been happening until I had to replace one of my non stick pans and on the packaging, it said not to place a hot pan in cold water.  Yes, I know, common sense would have told me that but coming from Singapore where the tap water isn’t actually cold, it took a while to put two and two together and realise what I was doing wrong.

A couple of warped pots later, I’ve wisened up and now I use boiling water to soak my pots.  I’ve also stumbled upon the miracle nonabrasive cleaner called sodium bicarb.  I’ve also realised that non stick cookwares can cost a fortune.  And why you may ask – it’s all in the quality, the likelihood of the nonstick portion coming off.   Bonding down the material and adding many many layers of it adds to the costs.

So the million dollar question is would I invest in non stick cookware when I go back to Singapore?  I’d say, probably yes but I’d only buy a frying pan as that’s probably the only thing I’d actually use.  And I’d probably get a multicoated, bonded sort – just to be on the safe side…