Archive for month: February, 2010

Space Food – J F Kennedy Space Centre, Florida

18 Feb
February 18, 2010

When I was a kid, I spent quite a few evenings laying out on the lawn at my parents holiday house down the South Coast of NSW. I would lie there covered in Areoguard and listen to animals rustling in the trees, cicadas, the distant thumping of a kangaroo and the occasional splash in the river a few metres away. I love the sound of the bush at night and I do miss it a great deal. I didn’t go and lay on the grass for the noises, it was flat on my back to witness the best show off earth, our solar system.

To stare at the swirling mass the milky way. Watching stars twinkling like Christmas lights, picking the lights out that did not twinkle, looking for the saucepan, the southern cross and other constellations. I would get so excited when I would see something move, sometimes it was a distant plane so high up you could not hear it, sometimes it would be space junk or a meteorite burning up on entering our atmosphere, just whizzing by and then sometimes it would be a satellite or similar. I would watch and dream of what was out there.

My fascination for space has not cooled and when I knew I was going to be spending a couple of days in Florida on my trip to the USA, well, it was a no brainer on what I wanted to do. So after around 24 hours of traveling and only a few hours of sleep I found myself on a bus at 8am in the morning heading out to J F Kennedy Space Centre.

Guess what…………….. Astronauts eat!! So combine my love of food and my love of space, let’s just say I had a really awesome day.

Did you know that astronauts prefer tortillas over bread? “Of course” you say, “because they take up less room, right?” Errrrr nope. “They make great Frisbees?” I hear you say. Well yes they do, sure they can toss one and see if they fellow astronaut can catch it in their mouth, but that isn’t it. “So what then/”, I hear you ask. Well tortillas don’t make as many crumbs which can be dangerous in zero gravity. They could get stuck in an eye or a vital filter. Tortillas have been provided on every space mission since 1985 when they were introduced by Rodolfo Neri Vela a Mexican scientist. NASA acquire these partially dehydrated Frisbees from teh same company that supplied Taco Bell.

What else do they eat? Not as much as when they are on Earth, that’s for sure. They can eat and drink up to 70% less in space, this is due to the human body adapting to weightlessness. Food has changed over the years of space travel. The first person to eat in space was John Glenn in 1962 and it was applesauce. Imagine holding what looks like a toothpaste container to your mouth and squirting puree in to your mouth, oh so yummy. Hey but really would you care, you are in space! Food was very sedate for the early missions, you have to realise that humans were guinea pigs and space was such a new frontier, they had no idea how the body would react to food under zero gravity.

By the time the Apollo missions started NASA was serving nutritionally balanced meals with a variety of options. These meals were freeze-dried, dehydrated or thermo stabilised (heat treated to kill bacteria) and well guys it did not look like regular food.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to set foot on the moon, they were also the first men to eat on the moon. They ate ham salad sandwiches, rehydrated beverages and fruit strips. There were four meals in total by the Apollo 11 crew which were eaten on the moon’s surface, and sadly today if you drop by the moon to have a look around you will find their garbage up there along with the lunar module they left behind. Go USA!! Maybe they will clean up one day??

refreshing drink – just add water

These days quite a elaborate variety of meals
are consumed on the International Space Station (ISS). When Japan sent their first crew member up in 2008 he brought along about 30 dishes with him. Apparently the freeze dried shrimp cocktail served with horseradish infused powered sauce is the most popular.

selection of space food

Due to storage issues and dietary restrictions astronauts can eat when and whatever they feel like. Astronauts are all allocated two cases to fill with any type of non perishable food such they wish, eg Pringles or M&Ms.

food tray and M&Ms

In 2008 astronaut and ISS crew member Sandra
Magnus was the first person to try and cook a meal in space. It took over an hour to saute some onions and garlic in the space stations food warmer, but the end result was a mesquite grilled tuna in a lemon garlic ginger marinade. Eaten from a bag obviously, but apparently truly delicious. 

scrambled eggs and biscuits


There isn’t a stove or fridge on the ISS, there aren’t knives or chairs either. Astronauts eat on a table which can be either strapped to themselves or a wall (think stable table size) and they eat with a spoon out of an aluminium pouch.

Coke Vs Pepsi Challenge – Coke has made it to space, Pepsi you lose

This girl was like a kid in a candy shop. I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time I was there. It was awesome to see the space craft used in
previous missions. To see where the Space Shuttles are kept. To see the actual launch pads. Also saw alligators and armadillos. Awesome experience!

When lunch time came around for me during my visit to the Space Centre, it was a trip to the cafeteria where burgers, hot dogs, pizzas and salads were on the menu. Now, I wanted to try something that was not common in Australia, so I decided on a pulled pork sandwich and fries (yes I know we have fries). The pulled pork had a wonderful smokey flavour to it, I was pleasantly surprised.

When it came to a late afternoon snack I opted for Space Dots (candy cane flavour) of course, what else do you have when you are visiting a Space Centre! I have tried these before, in Hong Kong actually and well I am actually quite partial to them. The freaky, hard, extremely cold round dots of ice cream that stay separate from each other, yep they are unusual but I love them.

Soooooo……………….. what does one snack on when they are writing a post on space food. Why freeze dried ice cream of course, a cookies and cream ice cream sandwich. This was developed by request for one of the Apollo missions. Was not popular so it is not provided these days.

Now if we eat our bodies do need to get rid of the waste, and this is where they go on the ISS, nothing like strapping yourself in with a vacuum. Quite honestly it looks down right scary!

My visit to Kennedy Space Centre was a wonderful up close and personal look at our space history exploration. Many men and woman have risked their lives in exploration of really just the surface of what is out there. I want to also take a moment to pay my respect to those who lost their lives trying to explore an amazing frontier.


Daring Cooks Challenge February – Mezze

14 Feb
February 14, 2010

The 2010 February Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid.

I was so excited when I saw this month’s challenge and what was to be my first Daring Cooks Challenge, Mezze. The mandatory items which had to be made were pita and hummus, neither of which I have actually ever made from scratch. Michele also provided a few non-mandatory recipes we could play with as well.

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what to make to go with the pita and hummus and ended up with a lovely mezze of pita, hummus, falafels, baba ghanouj, kafta, toum and a tomato/onion salad. I also purchased some beautiful persian feta which I dumbly forgot to put out.


kafta & falafel

The pita bread was the item I was most worried
about, I was having anxiety attacks that they would not poof up. I felt very confident with the rest of the items on the menu, but it is funny where things can go wrong, always the most unexpected places.

Pita Bread
Adapted from Flatbreads & Flavours by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid

2t dry yeast
2 1/2c lukewarm water
5 – 6c plain flour (you can substitute a combination of alternative flours if you cannot digest wheat)
1T salt

2T olive oil

In a large bowl sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve and then stir in 3 cups of the flour (a cup at a time). Stir 100 times, about a minute in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes or as long as 2 hours.

Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well and then add more flour (one cup at a time) until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 – 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise until at least double in size, approximately 1 – 1 1/2 hours.

Place pizza stone, or two small baking sheets on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 2cm (1 inch) gap all around between the stone/sheets and the oven walls to allow the heat to circulate. Preheat oven to 230C (450F).

Gently punch down the dough. Divide in half and then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle 20/23cm (8/9 inches) in diameter and less than 5mm (1/4 inch) thick. Keep the rolled out dough covered until read to bake, do not stack!

Place 2 circles of dough, or more if you can fit it, on to the stone/sheets and bake for 2 -3 minutes, or until the bread has gone into a full balloon. If for some reason your bread doesn’t puff up, don’t worry it should still taste delicious. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled out ones. Repeat with the rest of the dough.


look at that puffed goodness

My notes: I did not have a pizza stone so just used a flat baking tray without sides, it worked fine (big sigh of relief there!!). Due to the amount of pita this recipe produces I used a beach towel not a kitchen towel, wrapped them up well and they stayed warm and soft until they were needed a few hours later. I also put some in the freezer that were left over, they freeze well.

I think Junior was impressed that inded there were pockets in the pita

Adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Caludia Roden

1 1/2c chickpeas (either soak dried ones overnight in cold water or well drained canned ones)
6T lemon juice
2 – 3 cloves of garlic
big pinch of salt
4T tahini
flavourings as desired and to taste

Drain and boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender. Drain and reserve the cooking liquid.

Puree the beans in a food processor (or use a potato masher) adding the cooking water as needed until you have a smooth paste.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

My notes: I used canned chickpeas and mashed with a potato masher. I did not add any other flavours.


pita & hummus

The recipe I used for my falafels was based on the one provided by Michele, but I added more parsley and corriander as well as a few more spices. Initially I did not add enough flour to the mixture as I ended up with oil soaked falafels which were falling apart. This was easily remedied by adding a bit more flour.

falafels cooking

I was a lucky girl at Christmas and received the Food Safari cookbook from my lovely bro and sis in-law. It was the first time I had a chance to use it, so I used Katya Faraj’s recipe for Baba Ghanouj and Fouad Sayed’s recipe for Kafta fromthe book. I did alter the Kafta recipe as I don’t eat lamb and used soley minced beef.


toum, baba ghanouj & salad

The Toum recipe was one from my fellow blogger Fouad Kassab of The Food Blog. This is where things went slightly wrong. I had fun making this, but managed to blow out my food processor and spill 2 cups of oil all over my kitchen. Not sure if you realis
e how far 2 cups of oil can spread and how much a pain in the ass it is to clean up. Ended up using my hand held processor which was smoking by the end of it. Also ended up with Toum in my hair, across the kitchen and all sorts of places. It was just not playing nice with me and I was having one of the moments. The end result was worth it. Warning it makes a hell of a lot but it keeps really well.

Tomato and onion salad was basic. Tomatoes, onions, parsley, mint, lemon juice, olive oil and sumac.


my plate of goodies

This was a great challenge, and I will be making my own pita from now on when I have the time. The result is just so different from the store bought product. Hummus was easy, next time I will make it from dried chickpeas and see if there is a major difference.

Fish Friday

12 Feb
February 12, 2010

Since I first started my blog I am now getting more and more emails into my Belly Rumbles email address telling me of promotions, food events and other such stuff. I tend to not post about them unless it is a really unusual product or I post after I have attended the event. This one I feel is worth bringing to your attention before it happens as it is a charity event.

Fish Friday will be taking place on Friday 19th February at Martin Place in Sydney between 12pm and 2.30pm. The event in the aid of Caritas Australia and their 2010 project Compassion Appeal.

Chefs Jeff Turnbull (Aqua Dining), Max Lukeman (Nick’s Seafood), Stewart Wallace (Garfish) and Adam Lord (Coast) will be showing off their skills and showcasing some of the best seafood on offer from the Sydney Fish Markets. They will also be joined by chefs from Doyles at the Quay, who will be preparing a simple meal of fish for the general public. Sydneysiders will be invited to donate what they would usually spend on lunch to show solidarity with millions of people in our world who rely on fish and rice as their staple diet.

Keen foodies will be encouraged to place their bids for dishes created by Jeff, Max, Stewart & Adam in a special auction at 12.30pm. The lucky top four bidders and a friend will be invited to sit down in Martin Place to enjoy their special seafood meal, and have the opportunity to chat with the chef who created it.

So  if you find yourself in town on Friday for lunch, why don’t you head down to Martin Place for this good cause.



South Sydney Industrial Markets (Closed)

07 Feb
February 7, 2010

I have made a little promise to myself this year and that is to not be as lazy as I really can be. I am sure I am not the only one. How am I lazy you ask, well it’s simple. It is so easy to fall into the trap of the big guys, Coles and Woolworths, the one stop shops for all of our edible needs.

I shop at Coles and Wollies, but for numerous reasons I find myself on occassion not venturing two doors down and go to either the green grocer or butcher, instead I look at the poor quality fruit and veg as well as the water injected meat and complain as I pay premium prices for the pleasure.

There is another place to source fantastic quality fruit, vegetables, meat etc. All from local suppliers and all top notch quality. Your local farmer or growers’ market. These people take pride in their products and it is fantastic to meet the people that are supplying the food you are eating. To find out about where it comes from, how it is grown, the story behind what you are eating.

Therefore promise one is to go to said green grocer and butcher no matter what rush I am in or other poor excuse I give myself.

Second promise that I have made is to go to a farmer/growers’ market, if not once a week then fortnightly. Living in the Sutherland Shire my closest one is at Ramsgate, which I have been to a number of times now. Saying that, I am now on a mission to visit all the wonderful markets around Sydney during this year.

My first visit is to South Sydney Industrial Markets located in Alexandria.

I had heard about these markets and I knew I had driven past them hundreds of times, but I had not actually seen them, so my curiosity was sparked. Plus they claimed to be undercover for this rainy Sunday in Sydney.

They have a selection of clothing, soaps and other items as well as food. Let’s get this straight, I was there for the food!

I walked into the non food section and could not see anything in the distance that looked like it was food related, was I wrong?. Then my finely tuned for food nose caught the scent of sausages and meat cooking away on a distant grill, so I continued my journey in to the markets.

The markets are not that big and it did not take me that long to find the food section.

My first encounter was with Robinvale Estate. They have a range of dressings, olive oils and olives. It was the oils that interested me. I sampled their orange pressed oil which did have a lovely flavour to it and would be interesting to play with in recipes, but I was after an extra virgin olive oil. I ended up purchasing two bottles as they were having a special of 2 for $15 (normally $10 each), their estate grown and bottled as well as the Murray Gold Blend.

Picked up a couple of baguettes from Brasserie Bread, sadly none of their roasted garlic bread which I absolutely adore :(

Then I stumbled onto Le’Spice. I had seen their seductive packaging before onGrab Your Fork‘s blog, and was really happy to get to see the real thing. They have a wonderful range of spices, teas, chocolates and more, and are having a special of free delivery to certain areas for a limited time, so check their website out. I picked up some almond dukkah.

At Cha tea, I picked up the most adorable do it yourself tea bags, perfect for that loose green tea you have when you don’t want to make a whole pot. I also picked up a Japanese blend of tea. It has roasted rice in it and smells delightful. Would love to tell you what it is called, but sadly the container is not marked and my brain is a sieve.

Brie and pecorino from Country Valley, both delightful. They are located in Picton. I was also given a sample of their full cream milk to take home, and yeah, talk about gorgeous. You can taste the difference.

Green olives from the Royal Deli, stuffed with almonds and parmesan. Not as salty as some I have tried which was a pleasant surprise. The boys have only been in business for 12 months and as yet, no website or selling outside of the markets.

No visit to the markets is complete without going to the fruit and vege vendor/s. I did not actually need anything, but still had to check it out. Very glad I did. I walked on to the stand, and choir of angels started to sing allelughia and I almost fell to my knees. Heirloom Tomatoes!!!! A gorgeously large punnet was beckoning me. Man those puppies we in my canvas tote bag quicker than you can say Belly Rumbles!!

Last port of call was Eaglehawk Farms, the smell that drew me in to the markets initially. They had cooked up samples of snags and a lovely piece of porterhouse. I am not a sausage fan as there are too many terrible sausages out there. Give me a great sausage and wow you win me over. I ended up purchasing some parmesan and cracked pepper ones and I will be back for the porterhouse! They do also have marinated roasts as well as other various cuts of beef.

There were also stands selling cakes, sweets more oils and jams as well as take away food stalls to keep those hunger pains at bay while you shop.

That was market number one on my visit list. Where to this weekend? Will it be Dank Street or Bowral Farmers Markets?

South Sydney Industrial Markets
75 O’Roirdan Street
(Officeworks is at the front)