DSC01082Nobody ever has fun on our annual trip to Wilson's Prom.036035034032029


    The Goodbye Polaroid Party

    In 1999 (good god, ten years ago) I printed a book called 17 Reasons, which features seven polaroid transfers. The book was made in an edition of 35, which means that I made about three hundred transfers, give or take, including proofs and tests and stuff-ups. Thirty-odd boxes of 669 film later, I remember thinking I’d made one significant technical discovery, which involves the use of a hot water bottle. I’ve not printed any since. In my early panic at the news that Polaroid is discontinuing film production, I fought the urge to go out and stockpile film. It doesn’t last, and anyhow, I figured I ought to be satisfied that I’d had the chance to make my book. 

    But then the other day, moseying about in the camera store on my lunch break, it occurred to me to check how much film was still in stock. I was sad to see the discontinued item stickers on the boxes and a March 09 expiration date. But hey, I thought, maybe I should have one last hurrah with the DayLab Jnr. And then I thought, perhaps some others might like to join me? All of a sudden, I was thinking Goodbye Polaroid Party in my studio. Have you ever wanted to make polaroid transfers? Would you like to learn? It’s pretty easy, particularly with a hot water bottle in the mix. All you need are slides, Polaroid film and paper. Oh, and a brayer or a wooden spoon. It helps to be superstitious as well, I find. 

    What I’m thinking is an evening or a weekend afternoon sometime soon. You’d bring your slides and I’d get you started printing transfers. There’d be cake and champagne, of course. Let me know if this is something you’d be interested in. If there’s enough of us, I’ll get an organising committee into action.

    First fruit



    Putting on my swimsuit for the first time this summer, I realised with a shock that I need to be writing about feasting rather than doing it. But the last few months have featured many great meals, at my table and others’, and I plan many more in 2009. I feel like I’ve got my kitchen mojo back. Did you read this article in the Times last year? I used to think my ex-husband and I had a happy division of labour (me: dessert, him: everything else) and for the most part, I was happy as a beta cook. But turns out, roasting a chicken is really, really easy. Who knew? 

    My father’s is one kitchen in which I’m still the beta. (Just so you know, I’m not unaware of the psychoanalytic implications of all this.) Come Christmas, I’m required to submit a proposal for a dessert for Christmas Day lunch: two out of three proposals over the past three years have been turned down without recourse to appeal. In their place, I’ve prepared assigned recipes including an infamous Bomb Alaska; this year was Matt Moran’s raspberry tart. It was so good I made another two days later using blackberries, which gave it a slightly sinister, Dr. Suess-ish appeal. 

    Other recent meals include a paella from the Moro cookbook, a Thanksgiving spread and fish tagine at Em’s. The surprise hit at Thanksgiving was an Australian ring-in: the braised lentils from Jude Blereau’s book Coming Home to Eat. I reluctantly returned this book to the library after multiple renewals and bought my own straight away. Sarah e-mailed Jude Blereau and discovered she’s teaching sometime this year at the Essential Ingredient in Prahran. I’ve never taken a cooking class, but I might start. 

    All this entertaining comes on top of my usual crafternoon fare. I had the idea of compiling a recipe book for crafting friends but the vanishing days and the plummeting dollar put paid to the idea of using Blurb. Next year, I hope. Instead, I shared in Lena and Maria’s feasts vicariously, savouring their work in book form for the first time. I love it. 

    Next year, no, this year. Back to books for me. And photographs. I finally read the manual to my new-ish Nikon DX40: why have I been scared of this camera for so long? Someone told me many point & shoot cameras now come with a pre-programmed setting specifically for food. It occurs to me just now that he may have been pulling my leg. 

    Happy 2009!

    These women cannot be drafted into war

    When I got to work yesterday, I found this photo on my workbench. What could it possibly mean?

    Some idle research led me to search “Secretary’s Day” on Wikipedia. No light was shed on the above image, but I did learn that the day is now known as “Administrative Professionals’ Day.” It’s on the last Wednesday of April, in case you were wondering.


    Googling “cucumber sandwiches“, this is what I found:

    The traditional cucumber sandwich is composed of paper-thin slices of cucumber placed between two thin slices of crustless, lightly buttered white bread. As the thinness of the bread is a point of pride in the kitchen, a dense-textured white Pullman loaf is cut with a wide-bladed knife, which guides the cut; daylight should pass through the resulting fine pores. The cucumbers, if sliced thin enough, should permit a newspaper column-heading to be read through one. The peel of the cucumber is either removed or scored lengthwise with a fork before the cucumber is sliced, and the slices are dried gently with a paper towel before use. The slices of bread are carefully buttered all the way to the edges in the thinnest coating, which is only to protect the bread from becoming damp with cucumber juice, and the slices of cucumber, which have been dashed with salt and lemon juice, are placed in the sandwich just before serving in order to prevent the sandwich from becoming damp enough to moisten the eater’s fingers. The crusts of the bread are cut away cleanly and the sandwich sliced diagonally twice, creating four small triangular tea sandwiches.

    The traditional cucumber sandwich is of British origin. Modern variants (largely of American origin) exist, involving cream cheese, chopped dill or spices, brown bread, salmon, and even bread with crusts left intact. One specific American variant includes benedictine, a green soft spread based on cucumbers and cream cheese. British cucumber sandwich enthusiasts conventionally frown on these variants and many would not consider the modern variants to be variants at all, but simply a different sandwich. – Wikipedia

    Isn’t this brilliant? Wikipedia notes that the article doesn’t contain any references or sources, and is thus in danger of being removed. But this reads like high-level scholarship to me. 

    I failed the newspaper column-heading test, alas, even though I used my mandoline. My cucumber sandwiches erred toward the American variety (cream cheese, dill) but I remained strictly English in the composition of my Pimm’s Cup (ginger ale, slices of cucumber and orange, mint.) The menu was rounded out with cream and berry-topped meringues, mince pies and fresh peach jam on toast. A summer Christmas menu for crafternoon, inspired by Persephone Books, who were serving cucumber sandwiches, cake and meringues at an event on December 4. Alerted to Persephone’s existence by Jane, I pore over their catalogues and dream of a shelf lined with dove grey spines.



    “If Roald Dahl’s BFG could capture and bottle Carolyn Fraser’s enthusiasm for letterpress printing, he would be knocking on her sixth-floor studio door.”
    City Weekly, 5/11/08

    I’m not sure this is a good thing?

    13.3″ widescreen doesn’t do Obama justice


    Seven people, six laptops, a 60-inch plasma TV.

    These cookies, these apple pies and homemade Oreos. 

    A very good day.

    Hey! I can crochet!