|My Gympie school friend's home - as it still stands it's not altered much since the 50s.. In the 50s it was a very stylish home. It still is...|
Hold on! Don’t throw in the towel just yet! Let me explain! It’s no small thing. Well, actually it is, proving size does matter! Please...give me time to find my glasses. Nowadays everything is getting smaller. Soon I’ll have to increase the magnifying power of my glasses ten-fold to enable me to read the small print.
We’re urged to read the ingredients, nutritional information and country of origin on products we purchase, but the print is so incredibly small it’s unreadable. To my naked eye, it is; even when I don my glasses I can’t decipher the print, not without immense difficulty.
I carry two pairs of glasses with me when I go shopping at my local supermarket. (The situation would be the same if I went shopping at a supermarket in another area)!
The stronger pair of glasses I use to TRY to read the print on products (double emphasis on “TRY”); but even then I have problems translating what’s written. No hope! I probably would be better off with a couple of glasses of Scotch!!
I stand in the aisles squinting like I’ve been hit by a massive burst of capsicum spray.
Furthermore, those who design the packaging and insist upon using minute, coloured font on a base colour that makes interpreting the print almost, if not totally, impossible to read, need their heads read.
Nowadays, similar applies to newspapers and magazine. It’s frustrating!
What are these people trying to prove? Do they have shares in optical companies?
I got hold of a 2017 calendar the other day. I can barely read the headlined names of the months, let alone the individual dates thereon. They’re indecipherable. The digits are so tiny only ants can read them; but even they’re having problems. I know this for a fact because only yesterday I saw an ant stomping by wearing a pair of glasses, grumbling angrily because he didn’t know what day it was. It’s obvious to me ants are having difficulties, too.
Perhaps I’m not alone; maybe I’m not going blind, after all!
Not only is the font getting smaller by the day, but in a very sneaky, undercover, subversive move many of our favourite products of old are shrinking in size, too.
For starters - Ginger Nuts are half the size they once were. These days they’re about the size of a 50 cent piece! Peters Drumsticks have shrunk in size (and I’m not referring to the mini-Drumsticks...the regular ones, that appear to me to be no long regular)!
And then, as well as shrinking products, some bright spark comes along and decides to change tried and proven recipes of old, causing the taste/flavour of said products to be different to what they once were.
I’m pretty sure Arnott’s Arrowroot biscuits are smaller than what they used to be.
One thing I do know about Arrowroot biscuits is, they don’t taste like they once did, neither do Arnott Sao biscuits.
I bought a packet of Sao biscuits the other day. I’d not had a Sao in years. To my dismay they are no longer the Sao of old! As far as the changes to Arrowroot and Sao biscuits are concerned that’s no small matter in my book.
After school - primary school – often I’d go to a friend’s home to play for an hour or two. Without fail, upon our arrival my friend’s mother sat us down at their kitchen table for a snack before we went out to play. Theirs was a large, glossy, stylish kitchen (much larger than the kitchen in my family’s small, humble abode - which, in fact or slightly exaggerated fiction was not much bigger than my friend’s kitchen! A slight exaggeration, maybe...but you get the picture). My school friend’s entire home was much larger and more fashionable.
Her father was a very popular, well-to-do Gympie doctor who, along with his wife, moved in the “right” social circles.
For our afternoon treat my friend and I each were given a plate bearing Arrowroot biscuits sprinkled with sugar, with full cream milk poured over them. I can still taste those yummy snacks.
At home, my home, often my brother, Graham and I enjoyed similar Arrowroot biscuits and milk treats. We loved Arrowroot biscuits served that way – any way.
My childhood friend’s family may have had more money than mine, and lived in a larger, fancier house than I did, but they never made me feel small. That friend from my childhood and I still communicate to this day. Seeing we’ve both survived three score years and ten, plus a little more, that’s no small achievement. You do the math; I’m not going to do it for you. It’ll save you trying to locate a Sudoku puzzle.
In our primary school days we were small pupils. Perhaps nowadays my pupils have grown smaller and that’s what’s making things more difficult to read! Now, there’s a thought worth magnification!
Arrowroot and Sao biscuits, like Vegemite, were part and parcel of our childhood years...and beyond. Thankfully, Vegemite still tastes the same as it did when I was a kid – as it should taste. However, in my opinion (or taste) Dick Smith’s version is a sad imitation. Personally, I don’t like his take on Vegemite. I took one taste of it once on a piece of toast...and immediately threw the toast and jar away - untouched, except for that one try of it!
I want the old Arrowroot and Sao biscuits back!! Sao biscuits used to be crisp, flaky and tasty. Now they’re dense and bland.
To my dismay, shortly after I took on the position of Chef-Manager of the single men’s mess/canteen and accommodation quarters at Collinsville, in the rich coal-mining area of the Bowen Basin back in the early 90s, I discovered one of my staff had been making Vanilla Slices using Sao biscuits instead of puff pastry!
I know! I know! It’s a recipe used in many homes when making Vanilla Slices, and if that’s what folk want to do in their homes, that is their business, their choice; but I wasn’t going to have it in our commercial kitchen.
Promptly I poured cold water on that practice and flushed it down the kitchen sink. It was replaced with real Vanilla Slices. If we couldn’t present the men in our care with the real thing, then Vanilla Slices were off the menu. As far as I was concerned we weren’t going to take the easy way out by presenting them with imitations. We did, however, cheat in the puff pastry department, using frozen puff pastry rather than making our own puff pastry from scratch. Being a commercial kitchen the puff pastry used came in a large roll, in an outer similar to that of plastic cling-wrap or aluminium foil...but much larger, of course.
I want my old (but fresh) Arrowroot and Sao biscuits back! And, I want the print on our grocery products bigger and legible – readable and understandable to the layperson, of which I am one!!
Capsicum-Tomato Curry: Heat 1tbs olive oil in heavy-based pot; add 1 large, finely chopped onion and a few curry leaves; fry until onions are transparent; add some garlic-ginger paste; sauté 3mins; add 1tsp red chilli powder/paste, 1/4tsp turmeric and 1tsp coriander. Cut two large green capsicums into big squares; add to pot along with 2 tomatoes cut into large pieces; fry, uncovered, 7-8mins. Add 1c veg stock; season to taste; cook, covered, 10-12mins on low-med heat, until thickened. Add 1-1/2tsp finely crushed roasted peanuts, 1/2tsp fenugreek leaves and 1-1/2tsp roasted sesame seeds, powdered. Cook uncovered, 5mins. Serve with rice or rotis.
Lentil-Stuffed Capsicums: Preheat oven 180C. Line roasting pan. Slice tops off 4 medium red capsicums; reserve tops; scoop out seeds and membrane; stand capsicums in pan. Melt 20g butter in frying pan over med-heat. Add 1 thinly sliced celery stalk and1 thinly sliced, trimmed leek. Cook, 3-5min; add 2 crushed garlic cloves, 3tsp ground cumin and 1tsp ground coriander; cook 1-2mins; add 400g can drained, rinsed brown lentils (or cook your own), 1x400g can diced tomatoes, 1tsp veg stock powder, pepper and 1/2c cold water. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5-10mins, until thickens; add 1/3c chopped, flat-leaf parsley; season; spoon mixture into capsicums; place tops over filling; drizzle with a little oil; bake 45-50mins. Lift tops off capsicum; serve with a dollop of natural yoghurt, if you like; replace tops.
Arrowroot Biscuit Slice: Line 18x28cm slab pan. Coarsely crush/break-up 250g Arrowroot biscuits. Melt 125g butter; add 3/4c icing sugar and 2tbs cocoa powder; stir over low heat until mixture is dissolved and smooth. Remove from heat; stir in biscuits, 1/4c desiccated coconut, 1/2 slivered almonds or chopped walnuts/pecans, 1/3c dried cranberries, 1/3c chopped dates or dried apricots, 1 lightly beaten egg and 1tsp vanilla. Mix well; press into the tin. Melt 200g dark chocolate; then pour over the slice; smooth with spatula; allow to set at room temp. Cut into squares; then eat!
***Vanilla Slice: Puff pastry Place 500g chilled plain flour and 1-1/2tsp salt in a large mixing bowl; stir to combine. Add 400g room temp butter, cut into 2cm cubes, and run a knife through the mixture to coat the butter in the flour. Rub butter into flour with your fingertips to squash the butter pieces a bit. Add 1tsp lemon juice to 200-240ml iced water, make well in centre; add about 180ml of the water. Using your hands, squeeze the dough together to form a ball - if it's too dry, add more water, a little at a time, until a firm dough is formed. Press dough into a ball and knead lightly. The dough should feel firm with large macadamia-sized butter dots throughout. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 20-30mins. Unwrap dough; dust it with flour. Also, dust the rolling pin and the bench. Roll dough into a rectangle about 50cm long x 20cm wide. Fold the ends of dough so the edges meet in the centre and press into place. Fold in half along the centre line to create four layers (the dough will resemble a book). Rewrap and chill again for 20-30mins. Remove from fridge and repeat process three more times. Chill dough for at least 2 hours after the final roll, before rolling out and baking. Fiddly-Viddly Vanilla Slice - 2 x 180g blocks homemade puff pastry, chilled; Preheat oven to 220C. Line a 23cm square deep cake tin with two lengths of baking paper, so each side has an overhang of at least 5cm of paper (these will be used as "handles" when lifting out the finished slice). Dust bench top and rolling pin with flour; roll out pastry into two squares 27cm x 27cm. Chill for 30mins. Place the pastry squares on two lined baking trays then use a fork to prick the sheets all over. Bake for 10mins; then carefully press pastry with a clean tea towel to remove excess air. Reduce the oven to 200C; then bake for a further 10-15mins or until golden brown. Once they are cooked, press flat with the tea towel; then allow to cool. Using a serrated knife, trim the pastry using the base of the tin as a guide. Carefully lower one sheet into the base of the tin. For the custard (or creme patissiere); Whisk 12 egg yolks and 250g caster sugar together until thick and pale; stir in 80g cornflour. Split 2 vanilla beans in half lengthways; use back of knife to gently scrape out seeds. Place beans, seeds and 1 litre of milk in saucepan over med-high heat until just boiling. Remove from heat; pour onto egg and sugar mixture in thin stream, stirring constantly. Strain back into saucepan; boil, 2-3mins, stirring constantly, taking care not to scorch the bottom. (Don’t sit on the hotplate and you won’t scorch your bottom)! Pour hot custard into pastry-lined cake tin. Turn over second pastry sheet so the flat side is up; place on top of custard; carefully press down into place; allow to cool. Icing: Place 2-1/2c sifted icing sugar in small bowl; stir in 2tsp soft butter, followed by 50ml strained passionfruit juice and 1tbs of passionfruit pulp. The icing should be thick, but spreadable; add 1tsp water if too thick. Spread top of pastry with the icing; allow to set. (You can sprinkle the top with icing sugar...if preferred). Lift the slice out of cake tin using overhanging baking paper handles; trim sides with serrated knife; then cut into slices.*** Do what I do...I go to my local bakery and buy a couple of slices of their Vanilla Slices...it’s easier, quicker – and cheaper – and less messy!