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Archive for February, 2010

Often you need meal ideas for guests of the vegetarian persuasion. Not so bad, if you remember you’re feeding humans, not koalas or aphids. Certain all-veg concoctions – like a cheese-flecked pasta e fagioli glistening with olive oil – can satisfy even the most determined carnivores. In my valley, the combination of brown rice, bamboo shoots and mushrooms works as well for the meat-eaters as for those few vegetarians we haven’t shot yet…and whom we may even be required to entertain!

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Before any mushroom talk, a recoup of moso shoot prep:

Last spring I processed a lot of shoots for freezing. Just what’s cleared from beneath the power lines is more than a year’s supply. In future years I’ll need a more sophisticated production line than this:

Above are the steps necessary before freezing. Don’t forget to blanch/precook the sliced shoots in lots of water – which I flavour with salt, brown sugar and vinegar – and to chuck out the water. When that’s done, bag ’em and freeze ’em.

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I’ve mentioned that moso shoots freeze well after the right prep. Another interesting quality is their ability to stay crisp after long cooking. These freezer-stored shoots cooked with brown rice and turmeric were crunchily tender before being added to the pressure cooker along with the raw brown rice. At the end of cooking, they hadn’t changed much, either in consistency or flavour. Handy.

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A too-easy vegetarian meal that will be accepted by all:

Pressure cook brown rice by absorption method, including plenty of frozen bamboo shoots. Seasoning should include turmeric, and I like to add Aussie mustard oil for its buttery quality.

For meaty mushroom sauce, cook lots of garlic in lots of butter then add heaps of raw sliced mushroom. When that’s fried down, a dusting of flour is cooked in for a bit, then a small amount of vegetable stock is added. Simmer till saucy. All sorts of other good things can be added: parsley, coriander seed, chili go well with mushrooms.

Trust me, vegetarian or not, they’ll lick the glaze off the plates.

Nonetheless, I’m sticking with the master…

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MOSO. USE IT.

Over a decade ago, I was hunting for a coat-rail to span my bedroom between two supports. It occurred to me to check out my moso bamboo grove, that was just starting to look promising. (Actually it was two small stands that still hadn’t joined up.)

The culm I cut for the coat-rail was a juvenile that had been in the ground for two or three years: the best I had in those days. Without any prep, I cut and installed it, then proceeded to hang clothes from it.

It’s still in place. There’s a bend, since it’s quite a slender piece, but no splitting or wear.

Plenty big coat-rails now…

Moso!

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Almost certainly, they are made of moso bamboo,  just like the twig they’re hanging on. (Blue pegs are courtesy of  bowerbird.)

One reason for using bamboo fibre is, of course, that it’s deemed to be natural and renewable. True, in a sense, but the processing involves lots of energy and petrochemicals. Of course, improvements are possible, and it’s hard to argue against something that grows like this without fertiliser or insecticides (in my case).

I’d rather look at bamboo fibre as a competitive product. What are the undies like? They’re soft, cool in summer, warm in winter, ventilate and evaporate well, and tend not to smell. Bamboo fabric is also classed as non-allergenic, though I’d be amazed if dust mites don’t manage to live in it, here in Eastern Oz, the dust mite capital of the universe.

My undies are mostly moso, but when made into towels, outer garments, socks etc bamboo is mixed with other fibres in different proportions. Bamboo charcoal fibre, a product of nanotech, is becoming popular: sounds interesting, if a bit hyped.

If I did have scientific and technical capabilities, I’d hang with these guys. Love their work.

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