A message from Brigid ....

I have been a blogger since 2005. At the height of my blogging busy-ness, I had "a small stable" of blogs on different topics: social and political commentary; desert spirituality; food; waste and ....

A few years ago I called time and ceased blogging altogether - although there was an occasional post. I had called it quits. I am an aged woman these days with a couple of serious illnesses. I am not allowed to drive. I am no longer active in organisations. I think it fair to say that I am housebound. I am active on Facebook, although I am not there as often as once I was. I have decided to embark on a re-entry into the blogging world ... beginning with The Trad Pad and, possibly, a return to my food blog, Oz Tucker. I have always used a lot of photographs on my blogs ... and I miss not being out and about with my camera.

The Trad Pad has been my blog for the lovely things of life. The controversial or political has seldom intruded. Occasionally, the spiritual has found its way in, but I kept spirituality for the blog, Desert. I don't yet know if I will revive that. I will stick pretty much to food and the lovely things of life. If I have some regularity with those two categories, I feel that I will be doing well. I hope that, with this blog new friendships can be formed and old friendships renewed; new lovelies discovered; new reflections can enter into the meaning of modern life. I would love to hear from you - particularly if you have suggestions for new topics to enter into the conversation. So, it is a new year. Let's see what it has in store, what it can bring to us. And I hope that those who share the spirit of The Trad Pad can spread the message of a world of beauty, the creativity of humanity, and the joys of simplicity and tradition. ~~~ February, 2017

Friday, February 24, 2006

Give it to me slow and hot....

Clockwide from left: Aga; La Cornue; Bonnet; a Camp Oven
If there is a Trad Pad icon, it's an Aga stove. Not that I'm picky you know. I just love slow combustion stoves. I did have a great set up once - I had a bush kitchen. I lived in Mount Isa in north-west Queensland in the late 70s to the mid 80s. This was not the place to have slow combustion stoves indoors. Mount Isa's summer heat did not need any additional assistance. But my favourite stoves found me. There were three stoves. Indoors, in the kitchen renovations, went the electric stove I had drooled over when I was a new bride in the early 60s. It was dated but good as new and we got it cheaply. It was an eye level oven with pull-out coiled hot plates and behind them a heated glass area for keeping things warm. But who (and I expect it was a male) decided to put grills in eye level ovens? Some masochist who likes fat spitting in his eye? Then came the wood stove for free and, for $30 at an opp shop, an Everhot slow combustion stove which only needed a new firebrick. My Resourceful Husband - who built a stone wall and did the backyard stone paving - organised me an outdoor kitchen. The wood stove, with cast aluminium plates sitting on top, did duty as a barbecue. Next to the wood stove sat this five foot long stainless steel trolley purchased at an auction at the Barkly Hotel. Just the thing for putting all the cooking stuff on. Next to that sat the Everhot. Resourceful Husband built a huge table on either side of which went two upholstered forms (like school forms) which also came from the Barkly Hotel. The outdoor kitchen was where all the proper cooking got done. The Everhot, as slow combustion stoves do, did justice to slow cooking roasts and casseroles and, requiring a hotter oven, bread baking.

The love for Agas came from childhood. At Merinda, there was a huge range. My father used to cook steaks straight on the hotplates. At Queen's Beach, the Aga was smaller. I remember my father once doing a wonderful Magpie Goose casserole after a hunting trip. They weren't protected then. But I am realist. I saw my mother have too many difficulties when things went wrong with the stoves - and the least said about that the better.

Now Agas have achieved great status. But I have discovered there are two stoves even higher up the status rankings - both French. They are the La Cornue and the Bonnet - that come with six figure price tags. The Bonnet is custom made - I think you probably order by the foot - and is in the realm of high end chefs and restaurants. How did I learn all this? From this article. It is rather longish but a good read on kitchen technology, how useful it really is, and the current status of kitchens.

It says:
If Aga has a rival, it is the La Cornue stove—“the Rolls Royce of stoves,” as one owner described it to the New York Times. “Vikings are good, but this one has all the beauty you would associate with a nineteenth-century kitchen in Provence, and it’s state of the art. It took us ten years to get it, and it has our names on it,” engraved on a brass plaque. Even more rarified is the Bonnet, a stove the New York Times described as “custom-made by hand in France in solid cast iron with an installer
flown over to assemble it on site.” It can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But all this wonderful stuff doesn't turn people into great cooks. It doesn't make them even mediocre cooks. You are either a cook or you aren't - and a good a cook can cook anywhere on anything - an open fire or a camp oven. The following para horrified me. This is even worse than Kathy Lette getting rid of her dining table.

Eating together is now so unusual that the Nickelodeon television network teamed up with the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) and declared the fourth Monday in September to be “Family Day—A Day to Eat Dinner With Your Children.” Families pledge to eat
together and turn off their television sets in the hope of sparking spontaneous dinner conversation (the irony of a television network urging families to turn off their TVs and have dinner together was evidently lost on organizers of the event).

I mentioned this development to Herself. She wondered why it was necessary. Didn't U.S. families get together and eat at Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving? But if you don't understand good food, don't eat good food, and don't bother to cook good food, why would you bother to take time to sit around a table and make the whole food thing a social event?
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