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The Cook's Toolkit

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The Cook's Toolkit by Clever Pumpkin.

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Italian Special



This is one of those incredibly simple, incredibly good recipes. Don't be fooled by its simplicity; try it once and you'll be hooked.  Its 'proper' name is Italian Beef Noodle Bake, but in my family we always called it Italian Special.  I've been eating this since I was a kid, so it's officially an antique.  Last night when I was making it, I got to thinking about how things have changed.  The first time my mother made chicken cacciatore, she had a devil of a time finding a supermarket that stocked canned tomatoes.  Back then, the more a recipe claimed to be Genuine Chinese Style Chicken or Authentic Chinese Style, the more likely it was to call for something like Vegemite.  And spice equalled salt.  Want more genuine?  Add more salt.  Want more authentic?  Yep.  More salt. 

Twenty odd years ago I was put on an elimination diet for allergies which called for pure olive oil.  I couldn't find it anywhere.  The supermarket had olive oil blends, but nothing pure.  It was only through a Greek friend of the family whose cousin had a market stall that I got it, and even then my Greek friend (who was not known to be tight with money) brought the smallest bottle home because it was just so expensive.  Not knowing what I was doing, I tried to use it to make chips, deep frying sweet potato (I wasn't allowed to have potato) which promptly disintegrated.  I wasted my precious cache of olive oil and went hungry.

And back then, my family would sometimes refer to this dish as Itai Special.  Yep, things change all right, and we can be grateful for that, even if one has to get old in the process.

For more recipes go to the Clever Pumpkin website.
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