Food Skills Expert

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What's New in Food!

What is your healthy and fitness age?

Everyone has a chronological age but did you know we have a healthy and fitness age based on our food intake and energy output? Find out your healthy age at 
Click on the link and fill put the details to find out how you can work towards decreasing your age!

Do Food Safely

Did you know that the Victorian Department of Health has a free and user friendly interactive guide to help people of all ages learn about food safety? Directed towards food vendors in commercial settings, the information can be helpful to teachers and young people and teachers in schools and homemakers in domestic settings. The animations make this a fun way of learning about food safety in a fun way too. Participants can print out a non-accredited certificate for their efforts!
Go to
Thank you and Kudos goes to Mira Antoniou, Senior Food Safety Officer at the Dept. of Health, Melbourne


Food Solution for 'Can't Cookers'

Young people are accessing home cooked family frendly meals for around $10 from people out-sourcing their food skills.  With the time it takes to access and transport the food across town, the cost for a home cooked meal escalates.  I have blogged before about my potential concerns with 'what to do when there is a consumer grievance' such as a bout of food poisoning or cross-contamination with food allergens.
Read more at Web site fills a hungry void for those who lack kitchen talents

Pre-prandial icy dip in the Antarctic 

Claudia and I thought we were pretty brave as we enjoyed our Winter solstice dip today at Hampton Beach but spare a thought for the researchers at Casey Station. These brave ice bergers will intake a dip in the icy waters of the Antarctic before they enjoy an eight course meal!

Food Rules for 'Eating-in' and 'Eating out'

The Food Rules author Michal Pollan makes suggestions on what to choose from the restaurant menu - to eat more healthily, responsibly and sustainably.  If you don't know the provenance of the food you're eating - ask. Be an informed consumer and make sure the waiting staff can advise you on the source of the food you are putting into your mouth!
Pollan provides top tips for diners when 'eating out' - Choose a steak to be 'well done' and you're in for a tougher piece of meat!
Read more

Are Alpacas the new Kangaroo?

Innovative and creative alpaca farmers have found a way to use the whole beast. No longer prized for their furry pelt they have edible merit too!
Kangaroo meat is well known for its iron-rich and lean properties which appeals to health and gourmet aficionados - likewise alpaca promises to be an adjunct to exotic animal eaters' diets.
Read more in an article published in The Age on June 4th, 2013.
Alpacas amble on to nation's dinner plates.

Income in Kind - Exchange your Garden Produce Glut for Local Food Wares

What a great way for back yard home gardeners to share their over-supply of produce by resource exchanging with their local cafes!
Here is a fabulous idea where keen gardeners swap their home produced veggies and fruit for a free meal or a couple of loaves from their local cafe.

Read more Cafes' new sources have rich local flavour The Age, 01/06/13
Reduce food miles and boost community spirit! Now that is Home Economics at its best!

My views on competitive cooking shows on TV

As you know I am not fond of competitive cooking TV shows which pit contestants against one another to create adventurous meals beyond their capability, only to be brought down to size by guest judges in the celebrity hospitality industry. 
These shows are just no good in building up people's cooking confidence - confidence is a HUGE factor in contributing to people's motivation and enjoyment of cooking.

Many of my home economics colleagues and their students are crazy about these shows (I have not sat through one entire show) and certainly they have contributed to the resurgence of home economics in schools, which is a plus for us.

But how about we leave OTT (Over the Top) food to those who enjoy the task and who are experts in the trade? Sure these programs have contributed to a new generation of young people to become interested in cooking but are they keen to reproduce the recipes in class and at home?
Do these shows motivate young people enough to make everyday meals, day in and day out?  Will they approach everyday meal making as just too humdrum and boring?
I am keen to know your thoughts on this!

Watching 'Junior Masterchef' does not motivate young people to want to cook!

To validate my views, Rachel Goodchild as part of her Honours degree in Psychology found that there was no relationship between children's viewing 'Junior Masterchef' and wanting to cook at home.
Read more ...

Molecular Gastronomy - is it an authentic dining experience or a passing fad?

And whilst I am on the topic, my particular grievance is the current culinary fad of 'molecular gastronomy' made famous by chef artistes such as Hester Blumenthal and our local lad and ex-pat New Zealander Ben Shewry of Attica fame.
Yes - we are all very impressed and enjoy this whimsical dining experience but can we justify the wastage in both human (creativity, time and energy) and non-human resources - gas, electricity and money (for both maker and consumer) ... and the vast amount of food products used and wasted in the process of making these gorgeous tid-bits of culinary artistry?
Already we have seen the closure of the Costa Brava's El Bulli - will Noma in Copenhagen, the no. 1 top restaurant in the world, follow next?  What restaurant is next?  The not-so-skinny duck??

My guess is that these new wave 'culinary art' restaurants will gradually fade away just as cuisine minceur and nouvelle cuisine have disappeared from the culinary scene and have been relegated to the history books. 
These restaurants focus on the 'one-off' 'must-do' bucket-list of dining experiences.  It is the novelty of tasting culinary art; food that the average good home cook would not contemplate investing time, energy and money into creating for their family. 
What's more, most of the foods served in these establishments have the texture of foamy baby food - puree a  concoction of sweet corn, grated carrot, apple and peas, foam it up in your thermomix and voila  there you have it- an opportunity for naiive diners to reminesce and recreate their 'inner baby'!

And yet people flock to these establishements and are prepared to pay big dollars for this experience!
What worries me is the amount of money people are willing to spend on the food and experience - $200-300 per head while the majority of people in the world are food insecure.

Give me a good meal, made from simple, fresh, seasonal ingredients, prepared well and served lovingly and shared with family and friends - that's the ultimate.
And for the majority of meals that I have enjoyed in this category, most have been created at Casa Mia No. 3.

Aspiring chefs lure diners into their lounge rooms

And it appears that many home cooks share my view. I was intrigued to read an article in this Saturday's THE AGE (May 5th, 2012), titled Aspiring chefs lure diners into their lounge rooms.

For a donation or for the price of a home made meal, home cooks (mostly couples and singles) in Melbourne are cooking up a storm and inviting strangers through word of mouth to share their 'cook-ups'.
Great idea for the lonely hearts club who crave the food socialisation experience and the opportunity to share good food at a wholesome price!

But caveat emptor! We only need an outbreak of salmonella to bring this enterprise to its knees -council environment health officers are already starting to rub their hands together waiting for the first slip-up!!Antarctic dip for Casey Station Scientists