Stars of the Katering Show, intolerable foodie Kate McLennan and food intolerant friend Kate McCartney, are back to solve your culinary dilemmas once again. Our serving suggestion? Take their advice with a generous pinch of salt.
My neighbour is a sticky beak and constantly complaining about the smells my cooking makes (I live in an apartment) because I like to make a lot of curries. What can I do?
Look, unless by "smell" your neighbour actually means "the relentless sound of low-budget pornography being made in your flat", you're doing nothing wrong here. What we suspect is happening is that your neighbour is one of those racists that are clogging up our jobs market and waterways. As such, we're going to tread lightly with her precious birdlike bigotry because we don't want this to end in a Brexit-y sort melee. Essentially what you're going to have to do is record one of her rants on your iPhone, post it online and then sit back and watch her life get eaten from the inside out, like a ram's skull sitting on a nest of ants.
Unless of course your neighbour is a middle-aged white guy, in which case he can just issue a statement that apologises for how irrational you are being and then he can resume his job as the head of a major sporting club.
Either way, don't you dare stop cooking. Not now, not ever. You keep cooking till you hate it.
Is one expected to drink brandy and port and cognac as a grown up? What if I hate them? - Ben
McCartney: Benedict Hortense Jim Jams McGunty, I'll thank you to keep your disrespectful, and frankly harmful, opinions about port to yourself. How very dare you. I'm leaving this to McLennan.
McLennan: It's hard being a grown up, isn't it Ben? I still remember the day I got my period like it was yesterday. It wasn't yesterday, it was a rainy September in 1992 and the Bathurst 1000 was playing on the ol' picture box. Anyway, if there's one thing my subsequent teenage years taught me it was that drinking isn't about pleasure. It's more about how therapy doesn't work for me and how difficult it is to navigate the Centrelink website.
You probably won't like the taste but that's just your body's way of letting you know that you're being poisoned. But you need to override that survival instinct, Ben, because alcohol is really great. It helps you relax when your pelvic floor is too shot to do yoga; it makes you confident in situations that you don't enjoy, like shopping. It also comes in very handy as a legal defence when you find yourself up on serious assault charges. Push on through the gag reflex Ben; a world of wonder awaits.
How can I make dinner to please the kids as well as please us parents? I find myself cooking two dinners! - Alison
McL: Hi Alison, thanks for reaching out. I can't relate to this at all because my child's advanced palette was developed in the womb because I ate an umami-rich tapestry during her incubation.
Now each evening we sit down as a family and eat dishes like white bait and mole´ and have robust discussions on politics and NPR programs about mindful parenting and generally just exist as the kind of family that I know you wish you could be. But it's too late for you Alison, which is why you need to follow your kid's lead and eat squeezy packs of food or simply eat the scraps that have fallen on the floor like a neglected Golden Retriever.
McC: My kid started at daycare recently and she'd only had time to gnaw on maybe one other toddler before she acquired a time-warping, apocalyptic head cold. It means that, whilst she can't actually taste anything, she has VERY strong opinions about what she will and won't put in her 14-month-old piehole- the same piehole, by the way, that is normally all too happy to try a sampler of the cat's evening spew.
Anyway, this is what I prepared for my kid's dinner last night: spaghetti bolognese, tuna with avocado, creamed corn, mac'n'cheese, a peanut butter sandwich, oatmeal, risotto, peas - just peas - on a plate, yoghurt, an entire round of aged brie, a red cup with water in it, a red cup with milk in it, a red cup with banana smoothie in it, a red cup with strawberry smoothie in it, a red cup with nothing in it and finally, a handful of the most expensive organic blueberries available on this wretched crust.
She'd eat a spoonful of each of these meals, then the rest would be cast to the ground like it needed to be exorcised.
My point is, I regret having kids.
I hope this answered your question.
My parents don't understand my decision to turn vegetarian, how can I make them accept this and cook food that doesn't include meat? - Hannah
McC: Firstly Hannah, do some research. Find some compelling, fact-based information about the ethical and environmental impact of consuming meat. Secondly, source some recipes for cheap, easy, nutrient-rich family-friendly vegetarian meals and then offer to cook a few times a week.
Finally, show your parents that you're serious about a plant-based diet, by becoming an actual herbivore. Maybe a horse or something more waterproof, like a hippo. To do this, use the power of your convictions to move your eyes from the centre of your face to the sides of your head. This has the added bonus of helping you stay alert to predators on the Savannnah/car spaces at Westfield. Allow your incisors to fall out and be replaced by molars or a tough mouth pad to grind plant fibres. Grow 2-4 more stomachs. Bleat at intervals. Become a mountain goat. Your parents are unlikely to contest your dietary needs once you've scaled Nonna's pianola and are depositing dried faecal pellets on the carpet.
McL: Hi Hannah, I dated a vegetarian in my twenties and we had a terrible sex life. I'm not sure the two things are related, but still Hannah, is it a risk you're willing to take? If it is, I'd suggest the following; get pregnant. Your parents will either be totally devastated because you're too young or thrilled beyond measure because you're over the hill - either way, they'll be distracted from the fact that you're a vegetarian or a comedy writer with no income, health insurance and resources to pay your car registration and they'll cook whatever you want.
What's a great dessert that doesn't take forever to make? I love eating dessert, but I don't like making them, and I don't just want to eat chocolate bars from the shop, I want proper dessert. Is there an easy trick I'm missing? - Toby
McL: Hi Toby, you sound like the kind of guy who is in their mid forties, has gout and records a weekly podcast called 'I'veMind' yet still has the nerve to write on their Tinder profile that they're only interested in 24-year-olds with big busts whose hobbies include 'foot rubs' and 'listening.' You're a real jerk Toby. If you don't want to put the time and effort into making a 'great' and 'proper' dessert then you don't deserve to eat one. Stuff your store bought Pollywaffle in your face and leave us women alone.
McC: Spruce up an apple by cooking it with brown sugar in the microwave !