Food & Wine

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A no-fuss, delicious chocolate cake for special occasions

<p><em>Image: Readers Digest </em></p> <p>This delicious recipe is sure to be a crowd favorite.</p> <ul> <li>Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).</li> <li>Lightly grease and flour a 4-cup (1 litre) capacity heart-shaped cake tin or silicone mould.</li> <li>Sift 185 g plain (all-purpose) flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 3/4 cup (145 g) caster (superfine) sugar and 1/4 cup (30 g) unsweetened cocoa powder into a medium bowl and mix until well combined.</li> <li>Add 125 g melted butter, 2 eggs, 3/4 cup (180 ml) milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and whisk until smooth.</li> <li>Pour into prepared cake tin or mould.</li> <li>Bake for 1 hour, or until cooked – a skewer inserted in the centre will come out clean.</li> <li>Cool cake in tin on wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn out to finish cooling. If in a mould, cool completely in the mould before turning out.</li> <li>Cover with buttercream (see below).</li> </ul> <p><strong>Chocolate buttercream</strong></p> <ul> <li>Beat 125g softened unsalted butter until light and creamy.</li> <li>Gradually beat in 1 cup (125 g) icing sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.</li> <li>Add 125g melted and slightly cooled dark chocolate and beat until combined.</li> <li>Spread over cake and allow to set.</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/recipes/easy-peasy-chocolate-cake">Readers Digest.</a> </p>

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4 tips to help you start a veggie garden

<p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p>There is nothing quite like growing your own fruit and veggies at home. Here’s how to increase your chances of an abundant harvest.</p> <p><strong>1. Choose a sunny spot</strong></p> <p>Whether you're planting some pots on your balcony or digging a dedicated space in your backyard, vegetables require sunshine.</p> <p>"Plant when there is some warmth in the soil – don't plant too early in the season when the soil is cold or too late when it's hot all the time." </p> <p>Regular watering is a must. A rain water tank is recommended. </p> <p><strong>2. Pick your favorite produce </strong></p> <p>Start small while you learn the ropes, just planting two or three things that you like and will eat.</p> <p>If you know you like a leaf salad with tomatoes, just grow those things. Lettuce, beans, spring onions and snow peas are relatively easy starting points.</p> <p><strong>3. Nurture your soil </strong></p> <p>Your veggies will only be as good as the soil you plant them in.</p> <p>"You can get potting mix from Bunnings and supplement it with garden scraps, potato peel and chicken manure to make your soil richer," he says.</p> <p>Good drainage is important, so if you're planting on a balcony, Jarvis suggests putting your pots on a table.</p> <p>If your backyard soil is clay and heavy, put some Gypsum Clay Breaker in to break up the clay or build a raised bed and fill it with potting mix and veggie scraps. </p> <p>As for bug deterrence, you shouldn't need to use insecticides.</p> <p><strong>4. Keep at it</strong></p> <p>Like any new skill, it might take some trial and error to learn what works.</p> <p>Don't make the mistake of giving up too early. </p> <p>Once you get the hang of vegetable growing, the rewards are vast – for the planet, your health and your happiness.</p> <p>There is something reassuring and wonderful about growing your own food – it gets you outside and makes you feel good.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p>

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Coles steps up to stop panic buying

<p><em>Image: Getty </em></p> <p>Buying limits have been reintroduced at Coles for certain groceries as staff shortages and supply chain issues caused by COVID-19 continue to impact stock availability.</p> <p>Customers will now only be allowed to purchase one packet of toilet paper, while packets of paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin will have a limit of two per buyer.</p> <p>"Product availability in our stores has been impacted due to pandemic related supply chain disruptions," the supermarket giant said on Facebook on Tuesday.</p> <p>"There is no need to panic buy — please purchase only what you need. Purchase limits on some items will apply.</p> <p>"Our team are working hard during this trying time — please remember to show them the kindness and respect they very much deserve."</p> <p>Empty shelves have become commonplace across the eastern states, particularly in NSW.</p> <p>However, unlike supply shortages at the start of the pandemic, which were caused by panic buying, the current issues are the result of supply-chain disruption as workers are forced into isolation by the spread of the Omicron variant.</p> <p>Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci last week acknowledged the struggles to keep shelves stocked.</p> <p>"This is because of the number of people in our supply chain in isolation – from suppliers to truck drivers and distribution centre team members – which in turn is causing material delays to store deliveries," Mr Banducci said in a statement.</p> <p>"To give you a sense of the magnitude of the challenge, we are experiencing COVID-driven absences of 20 per cent plus in our distribution centres and over 10 per cent in our stores."</p> <p>He added it was unclear when supply processes would return to normal, as staff members were forced into isolation by the Omicron wave.</p> <p>For Woolworths customers shopping online, automatic substitution of missing items has been established for all orders.</p> <p>The current shortages have impacted fresh food as well as unperishable goods.</p> <p>Last week, Coles introduced buying limits for meat in all states except Western Australia.</p>

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COVID concerns drive supplement and vitamin use

<div> <p><em>Image: Getty </em></p> <p><span>Sales of complementary medicines have been driven up by COVID fears, but immune boosting claims for them are doing more harm than good. </span></p> <div class="copy"> <p>In an <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.nps.org.au/australian-prescriber/articles/the-safety-of-commonly-used-vitamins-and-minerals" target="_blank">article</a> published today in <em>Australian Prescriber, </em>University of Queensland Adjunct Associate Professor of Pharmacology Geraldine Moses has warned of major potential harms associated with the use of dietary supplements.</p> <p>“One reason for the persistent popularity of vitamins and minerals is the perception that they are harmless,” says Moses. But that perception masks a troublesome reality.</p> <p>“When it comes to complementary medicines, most consumers are only given information about the possible benefits of these products, and little if anything about risk – and there’s always potential risk.”</p> <p>The advice comes as supplement use is soaring. In July, a US survey claimed that nearly 30% of Americans are now taking more supplements than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic. Commissioned by the US health non-profit <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.samueli.org/" target="_blank">Samueli Foundation</a>, the <a rel="noopener" href="https://theharrispoll.com/" target="_blank">Harris Poll</a> concluded that 76% of US citizens were taking supplements.</p> <p>The article in <em>Australian Prescriber</em> discusses six potential harms of using dietary supplements:</p> <ul> <li>They can have <strong>adverse effects</strong>, particularly at high doses.</li> <li>They can <strong>interact with other medicines</strong>.</li> <li>They <strong>cost money</strong>, which may be better spent on other things.</li> <li>Time spent taking dietary supplements may delay <strong>more effective treatments</strong>.</li> <li>They may <strong>bring false hope</strong> and disappointment.</li> <li>By taking dietary supplements, people <strong>add to the number of medicines they are taking</strong>, increasing the risk of medication error, interactions and adverse effects.</li> </ul> <p>The US survey was small and not based on a probability sample, so more research is required to build an accurate picture. But the trend it highlights is supported by evidence globally of an upturn in supplement use.</p> <p>Accurate figures for Australia are hard to obtain, but market researchers <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.ibisworld.com/au/industry/online-vitamin-supplement-sales/4091/" target="_blank">report</a> that sales of vitamins and supplements soared during the pandemic. </p> <p>The trend suggests that pandemic-related fear may be driving the use of these products, which some experts say are not regulated or evidenced as rigorously as <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.tga.gov.au/registered-medicines" target="_blank">registered medicines</a>. And while the pandemic may have bolstered supplement sales, the scale of their use has always been profound: in 2018, around <a rel="noopener" href="http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/7956-australian-vitamin-market-december-2018-201904260734" target="_blank">a third of Australians</a> – 8.3 million people – reported buying supplements, according to Roy Morgan.</p> <h4><strong>Supplementary harms?</strong></h4> <p>Supplements can be benign and are critical for people with particular conditions or deficiencies, but there are notable cases in which they’ve been shown to cause long-term damage.</p> <p>Just last week, doctors at a Sydney liver transplant centre <a rel="noopener" href="https://insightplus.mja.com.au/2021/27/drug-related-liver-injury-call-for-better-regulation-of-supplements/" target="_blank">went public with concerns</a> that drug-induced liver injuries linked to dietary and herbal supplements were on the rise. </p> <p>Their <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2021/215/6/drug-induced-liver-injury-australia-2009-2020-increasing-proportion-non" target="_blank">study</a>, which spanned 2009 to 2020, found that the proportion of drug-induced liver injuries that were caused by supplements (as opposed to things such as paracetamol and other medications) rose from 15% in 2009–11 to 47% in 2018–20. </p> <p>“We observed a link to bodybuilding and weight-loss supplements as has been seen in reports internationally, but also a link to traditional Chinese medicines,” says co-author Simone Strasser, president of the Gastroenterological Society. “Both groups of supplements are rising in popularity in Australia.”</p> <p>Strasser says that in many cases supplement-related drug-induced liver injuries (DILIs) were potentially severe: while 90-day transplant-free survival was 74% for liver injuries caused by paracetamol, it was 59% for those caused by supplements. </p> <p>“There’s an old saying that the difference between a drug and a poison is the dose,” says Moses. “What many people don’t realise is that high doses of some supplements can be dangerous.”</p> <p>Moses says that because consumers aren’t aware of the potential toxicity of supplements, they may be skirting perilously close to the line without even knowing.</p> <p>“Vitamin B6 is the classic one,” Moses says. “In Australia, the toxic dose is considered to be 200mg a day or more, and lots of people that I see now in hospital will be on four products with 50mg in each one, so they’re at the toxic dose, but they’re completely unaware of that.”</p> <p>The authors of the liver-damage study have expressed concern that so many supplements are escaping regulatory oversight by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), not least, Strasser says, because “not infrequently these compounds were purchased online, bypassing the Australian regulatory system”.</p> <p>Strasser adds that because reporting adverse events associated with supplements to the TGA is voluntary, many severe adverse reactions go unreported.</p> <h4><strong>Health anxiety drives demand</strong></h4> <p>As the pandemic progresses, reports of health anxiety <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7239023/" target="_blank">naturally rise</a>. A July 2020 <a rel="noopener" href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0236562" target="_blank">study</a> among 5,070 adult Australians of varying ages and from various locations found that 25% were very or extremely worried about contracting COVID-19, and around half (52%) were worried about family and friends contracting the disease.</p> <p>“When people are fearful, especially now with COVID, they will reach out and do whatever they can to assuage their anxiety, including taking natural health products,” Moses says. </p> <div class="newsletter-box"> <p class="h2"><strong>But do supplements work as promised?</strong></p> </div> <p>Ken Harvey, a professor at Bond University’s school of Health Sciences and Medicine and an outspoken critic of pharmaceutical marketing, says that supplements can be helpful in specific cases. For example, pregnant women are encouraged to take folic acid to reduce the risk of foetal defects, and older people may need certain nutritional supplements to make up for deficiencies caused by poor diet, lack of activity and a lack of sunlight. </p> <p>But Harvey says most Australians can get enough of what they need from a reasonably healthy diet, so any vitamin they take will simply be filtered out by the kidneys and excreted in urine, because the body already has enough. </p> <p>Meanwhile, social media and wellness ‘influencers’ are patently contributing to the problem. A 2020 <a rel="noopener" href="https://aacijournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13223-020-00474-6" target="_blank">study</a> in <em>BMC Allergy, Ashthma and Clinical Immunology </em>found that use of the popular Instagram hashtag #immunebooster increased by over 46% between 15 April and 15 May 2020.</p> <h4><strong>The myth of “immune-boosting” products</strong></h4> <p>One of the most touted phrases by both wellness influencers and supplement brands is ‘immune-boosting’, a term that had become synonymous with “wellness” even before the global pandemic. But how accurate is the term ‘immune-boosting’?</p> <p>Well, not very. According to Harvey, the immune-boosting myth is based on the fact that a lack of vitamins and minerals is known to<em> </em>weaken immunity, for example among malnourished populations. But Harvey says that in Australia, “there is no good evidence of widespread vitamin deficiencies in the population”.</p> <p>In fact, the idea of immune-boosting is based on a misconception about how the immune system works. The immune system is <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/boosting-your-immune-system.html" target="_blank">better off balanced</a> than boosted – if it could be boosted by supplements (<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6673706/#B7" target="_blank">which it can’t</a>), users would experience symptoms of an immune response, such as fever and a runny nose, and in extreme cases would end up very sick.</p> <p>“To ‘boost’ your immune system against specific diseases, you’ve got to either catch one, or you’ve got to be vaccinated,” Harvey says, adding that consumers often buy supplements under the mistaken belief – promoted by some brands – that they will offer immunological benefits.</p> <p>Even more alarming, there is <a rel="noopener" href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28911953/" target="_blank">evidence</a> that some people may use ‘immune-boosting’ natural remedies as an alternative to vaccinations against viral conditions such as the flu, meaning the immune-boosting myth could hamper the fight against disease.</p> <p>Harvey says the TGA has regulated against advertising that promotes immune-boosting products by reference to the pandemic – but there’s a major loophole, because products can still be marketed as ‘immune-boosting’, provided they don’t mention COVID-19. </p> <h4><strong>So, how <em>are</em> supplements regulated?</strong></h4> <p>Under the TGA’s classification process, there are two major categories of medicines. Registered medicines include all prescription medications and most over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Prescription medications are considered higher risk, and OTC medicines a lower but still palpable risk, so all registered medicines are assessed by the TGA for quality, safety <em>and </em>efficacy.</p> <p>Efficacy, in pharmacological terms, refers to the ability of a drug to provide the benefits to which it claims, including establishing the dosage required to provide that benefit. <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.nps.org.au/australian-prescriber/articles/efficacy-effectiveness-efficiency" target="_blank">Efficacy is established during clinical trials</a>.</p> <p>Complementary medicines such as supplements fall into the category of <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.tga.gov.au/listed-medicines" target="_blank">listed medicines</a>, which generally contain well-known, low-risk ingredients with long histories of use, such as vitamin and mineral products and sunscreens. These medicines are those that the TGA considers to be generally benign or low risk, so, “listed medicines do not undergo a full pre-market assessment of safety, quality and efficacy,” according to the TGA.</p> <p>The TGA <em>does</em> do yearly post-marketing surveillance on around 150 of the thousands of listed medicines on the Australian market, the results of which can be found in its <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.tga.gov.au/annual-performance-statistics-reports" target="_blank">annual performance statistics reports</a>. </p> <p>A review of the performance statistics over the five years from 2015 to 2020 reveals that around 75% to 80% of the listed medicines tested are found to breach compliance in some way, which would appear to point to what Harvey refers to as a “light-touch regulatory process” for listed medicines.</p> <h4><strong>Where to now?</strong></h4> <p>Approached for comment, the TGA informed <em>Cosmos </em>that enhancements to the listed medicines post-market compliance scheme are coming. </p> <p>But the supplement sector has always been resilient, offering an alluring alternative to Western medicine, whether because the supplements are perceived as low risk, or because of an inherent distrust of public-health messaging.</p> <p>“They [the TGA] have a pretty tough job to do, trying to cover every possible pharmaceutical product throughout Australia,” Moses says. “But I certainly think that with complementary medicines we could do a better job if we required manufacturers to provide consumers with information about potential risks.”</p> <p>Strasser says that a lack of public education is hampering both the TGA and the medical profession’s ability to clamp down on unsafe supplement use.</p> <p>“There is still a perception that supplements are natural and therefore healthy,” she says. “Time after time, patients who experience severe DILI are incredibly surprised that something they purchase over the counter or online with the aim of improving their health could have harmed them.”</p> <!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=160279&amp;title=COVID+concerns+drive+supplement+use" alt="" width="1" height="1" /> <!-- End of tracking content syndication --></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/dangers-dietary-supplements/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/amalyah-hart">Amalyah Hart</a>. </p> </div> </div>

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A supermarket in Britain has removed use-by dates in favour of the 'sniff test'

<p>Image: Getty </p> <p>Grocery chain ‘Morrisons’ is being slammed after announcing a decision to scrap “use-by” dates on milk, instead asking customers to use a “sniff test” to determine if the milk has gone bad.</p> <p>The supermarket will switch to using “best before” dates on 90% of its home brand milk packaging from the end of January, <em>The Sun</em> reports.</p> <p>The date will remain the same but Morrisons is asking customers to not automatically assume the milk is off, but instead sniff to see whether it has expired first.</p> <p>Best before dates indicate that a product will have a better quality if consumed before that day, but use by means food might not be safe to eat after that point and runs the risk of making the customer sick.</p> <p>Morrisons said the move is intended to reduce food wastage, as millions of litres of milk are thrown away each year.</p> <p>It is estimated that 48 million litres of milk are wasted due to customers following “use-by” labels.</p> <p>Research shows milk is often fine to be used days after the use-by date the supermarket said. So yes, customers are being encouraged to smell their milk to check if it has actually gone bad before throwing it away.</p> <p>A sour aroma or curdled consistency are both signs milk has been spoiled.</p> <p>Shoppers took to Twitter to complain about the decision, with many asking how they can smell the milk while in store.</p> <p>However, Morrisons said that won’t be necessary because it won’t sell milk that is near the best before date.</p> <p>One customer said: “So, Morrisons – can we open the bottle in order to sniff it before purchase? Or do we have to go home, sniff it, then bring it back if it’s off?”</p> <p>Another added: “I can open the milk whilst still in Morrisons to check then I guess?”</p> <p>Others pointed out that one of the main symptoms of Covid is losing your sense of smell.</p> <p>“Generations before us have always used the sniff test – and I believe we can too” According to Ian Goode, senior milk buyer at Morrisons.</p>

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9 ways to improve your pasta

<p>Here are nine tips to help you achieve your tastiest pasta yet.</p> <p><strong>1. Don't over-cook it</strong></p> <p>It can be hard to perfectly finesse the timing when it comes to cooking pasta, but it can make all the difference to the taste.</p> <p>Pasta should have a slight firmness to it but be chewy with a uniform colour.</p> <p>Make sure you check your pasta one minute before the packet’s recommended cooking time is up, and avoid overcooking it as it’ll go mushy.</p> <p><strong>2. Don’t get the pasta to water ratio incorrect</strong></p> <p>Pasta needs a lot of room to expand while it cooks, so a large pan is essential.</p> <p>This will prevent it from sticking together in the boiling water.</p> <p>You should also stir regularly to get an even cook and to prevent any clumping.</p> <p><strong>3. Don’t add olive oil to the pasta water</strong></p> <p>Many people think that you should add olive oil to your water when cooking to stop the pasta from sticking together.</p> <p>However, you should avoid doing this as it’ll leave a film on the pasta after it has been drained.</p> <p>This will stop sauces from clinging to it.</p> <p><strong>4. Don’t waste the pasta water after draining</strong></p> <p>Firstly, make sure you add salt to your pasta water when it is coming to the boil.</p> <p>After cooking, many people drain their pasta and pour the water down the sink, but it can actually help to thin the sauce later if needed.</p> <p>It’ll boost the flavour without adding extra salt.</p> <p><strong>5. Don’t wash off the flavour</strong></p> <p>Lots of people choose to rinse their pasta after cooking, but you should avoid this if you can.</p> <p>This is because you will wash off some of the pasta flavour, and you will also lose some of the starch which helps bind the sauce to the pasta.</p> <p><strong>6. Don’t choose the wrong sauce for the pasta type</strong></p> <p>Choosing the best sauce for your pasta can help to enhance the meal.</p> <p>Spaghetti obviously works well with bolognese, and also pairs with creamy sauces, as does linguine and fettuccine.</p> <p>If you have short pasta in a tube shape, you should consider using chunky vegetable sauces.</p> <p>Pappardelle’s ribbon shape or rigatoni’s ridges work well with a meaty ragu.</p> <p><strong>7. Don’t overdo the sauce</strong></p> <p>If you want to get pasta that would be approved by the Italians, try to aim for pasta that is coated by sauce but not drowning in it.</p> <p>The best way to ensure you don’t overdo it is to add the cooked and drained pasta into a large frying pan and then add the sauce slowly.</p> <p><strong>8. Don’t put the heat too high with carbonara</strong></p> <p>Have you ever tried to make a carbonara and the sauce slightly resembles scrambled eggs?</p> <p>You may have had the heat too high, leading to the eggs overcooking.</p> <p>It can be tricky though, as you need enough heat to thicken the egg and melt the cheese.</p> <p>Here’s a chef’s guide to nailing the dish.</p> <p><strong>9. Don’t overcook pasta for a bake</strong></p> <p>Some people find that their pasta is too soft when they serve their pasta bakes.</p> <p>This can be prevented by undercooking your pasta for a few minutes, as it’ll carry on cooking in the oven.</p>

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Coles to reinstate product limits across the country

<p><em>Image: Getty </em></p> <p>Coles supermarkets across the country are set to reintroduce product limits as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the supply chain.</p> <p>The decision was announced to bring back buyer limits on some meat products and rapid antigen tests on Wednesday afternoon taking us all back to the memories of empty shelves and panic buying during the nation’s first lockdown.</p> <p>Customers are limited to two packs of chicken breasts, chicken thighs, mince and sausages. Covid tests have been limited to one pack per transaction.</p> <p>In the meantime, Woolworths have not announced any limits on customers purchasing items other than rapid antigen tests. Photos taken on Thursday night at a Woolies store in Sydney suburb Neutral Bay show the true extent of supply chain issues leaving shelves completely bare.</p> <p>Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed product shortages after an emergency national cabinet meeting on Wednesday afternoon.</p> <p>'We're not just dealing with a health challenge, but the economic challenge of taking people out of the workforce, people that are doing very important jobs making sure there's food on the table,' Mr Morrison said.</p> <p>'The Treasurer in particular has been working with Coles and Woolies and other suppliers, and we are monitoring these issues very closely.</p> <p>'It will take us a few weeks to fully recover from this and importantly, we need to get those team member numbers that are isolating back into the workforce to recover all of those food supplies.'</p> <p>Meat suppliers have warned of huge supply chain disruptions with as many as 70% of staff off work and in isolation.</p> <p>'This is an emergency as of now,' Australian Meat Industry Council chief executive Patrick Hutchinson told Seven News.</p> <p>'We're now seeing a large amount of meat workers who actually can't get to work.</p> <p>'There's hundreds and hundreds of staff up and down the eastern seaboard, certainly Queensland, NSW and VIC who aren't able to get to work at this stage.'</p> <p>In Wednesday's press conference, Mr Morrison confirmed Australians will no longer need to seek a PCR test if they test positive on a rapid antigen test, and should count themselves as Covid positive.</p> <p>The Coles supermarket executive warns shoppers they may need to change brand to find their favourite products for the time being and shop sensibly.</p>

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Tips and tricks to make the perfect summer smoothies

<p>Easy to prepare, can be consumed on the go and can be packed with flavour and filled with healthy goodness.</p> <p>Here are some smoothie tips to get them right this summer:</p> <p><strong>Benefits</strong></p> <ul> <li>Smoothies are great is you don't like breakfast and need something easy to get into you in the morning (or any time of the day, really).</li> <li>They're perfect if you're short on time, because you can make them ahead.</li> <li>They help you up your veggie and fruit intake, as well as your fluids.</li> <li>You can tailor them to your needs (workout/stamina/energy boost, etc).</li> <li>They're better than juices because you get ALL of the fruit/veg that you blitz into them (think: fibre), not just the juice.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Common smoothie mistakes</strong></p> <ul> <li>Using too many ingredients makes them all taste the same.</li> <li>Using too much fruit/dried fruit or sweetener loads them with sugar (would you really eat two apples and a box of berries in one sitting?), so think portion control. If in doubt, a great tip is 'two roots to one fruit', or a similar ratio with greens and fruit — I love this cute trick to getting a healthier balance because it sounds bit rude.</li> <li>Not using enough liquid will make a smoothie gluggy.</li> <li>Making them too far in advance means they oxidize and lose nutrients, colour and flavour. The nutrients start to decrease straight away, so only make it the night before, not for the whole week.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Tips to up your smoothie game</strong></p> <ul> <li>Frozen fruit is a great addition for a creamy/slushie texture — frozen banana is a particular treat. Keep fruits prepped and frozen in bags in the freezer</li> <li>You can also blend your greens and keep them frozen as ice cubes to add in when needed.</li> <li>Add nuts/grains for texture and protein.</li> <li>Blend leafy greens with liquid first, then add the rest for better consistency</li> <li>Add enough liquid (and not just dairy or juice – water and coconut water can be good too).</li> <li>Get a good portable container for your smoothie, like a glass jar that you like / a good bottle or a smoothie attachment.</li> <li>To keep them healthier and lower in sugar, remember the fun and cheeky ratio '2 roots to a fruit' to make sure you're not just eating loads of fruit.</li> </ul> <p><strong>A word on blenders</strong></p> <ul> <li>A Nutribullet or mini smoothie blender is great for small quantities of lighter smoothies, i.e. one-person serves, etc.</li> <li>The bigger and more powerful the blender the more you can do with it, which means you could even make your own nut milk/mylk base if needed.</li> <li>Look for ones that have a smoothie container attachment for true convenience.</li> <li>The more blades, the better. Four blades will give you a smoother consistency.</li> <li>The more expensive models allow for more functions and options, including ice crushing/oxygen removal/juicing, etc… but it's only necessary if you're going to use these things.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Add-ins and 'superfoods' are great but not necessary</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>Protein powder/collagen powders</strong> are great if you are burning a lot of energy and doing exercise, and can also support gut health depending on variety.</li> <li><strong>Acai berry and blueberries</strong> add antioxidants.</li> <li><strong>Maca</strong> supports fertility and hormone balance.</li> <li><strong>Chia</strong> seeds provide protein.</li> <li><strong>Flaxseed</strong> adds Omega 3s.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Breakfast smoothie</strong></p> <p>These need to keep you feeling full until lunchtime, so always add a protein like nuts/nut butter/oats/Weetbix etc. Then, just go with what breakfast flavours you like and don't overdo it on fruit and sweeteners:</p> <ul> <li>Yoghurt (protein, opt for non-sweetened, dairy)</li> <li>Berries (don't go overboard)</li> <li>Weetbix (protein and fibre)</li> <li>Milk/mylk of choice (dairy)</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong>Pre/post-workout smoothie</strong></p> <p>These depend on your routines and workouts, but items to add can include:</p> <ul> <li>Banana (potassium)</li> <li>Coconut water (hydration)</li> <li>Protein powders</li> <li>Oats (slow release energy and protein</li> <li>Pear is great for fibre</li> <li>Nuts (walnuts/almonds etc) – healthy fats to help with a workout</li> </ul> <p>A great combination is:</p> <ul> <li>Frozen banana (creamy feel, potassium)</li> <li>Oats (protein)</li> <li>Protein powder of choice</li> <li>Almond butter (protein) or nuts</li> <li>Honey (optional)</li> <li>Oat milk/mylk</li> </ul> <p><strong>Green smoothie (fruit vs veg)</strong></p> <p>As long as these are more veg than fruit and they support a healthy and active lifestyle, they can aid in maintaining your weight goals.</p> <p>The biggest tip here is don't forget portion control and balance. An all-fruit smoothie will be too sugary, while all veg will taste very green and be fibrous. Find a good balance — remember 'two roots to one fruit', or that ratio for veggies to fruit.</p> <p><em>My favourite additions include (in varying ratios depending on what I've got);</em></p> <ul> <li>Kale</li> <li>Celery</li> <li>Apple</li> <li>Mango</li> <li>Coconut water / water</li> <li>Avocado (if you want creamy texture and good fats</li> <li>Fresh mint</li> <li>Any add-ins like chia/flax/oats to keep you full</li> </ul>

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A child ordered $1200 of ice cream while playing on his dad’s phone

<p dir="ltr">A 5-year-old Sydney boy is presumably in hot water after ordering $1200 worth of ice cream on his dad’s credit card while playing on his phone.</p> <p dir="ltr">Gelato Messina posted about the massive order on their Instagram on Tuesday, and according to their posts, the child was using their dad’s phone to play games, and somehow found himself on the Uber Eats app. Naturally, his next step was to order $1200 worth of gelato and other products from Gelato Messina.</p> <p dir="ltr">His dad didn’t realise anything was amiss until he received a call from the Uber Eats delivery driver, who was outside his workplace (a fire station in Newtown) with the massive haul, which included seven ice cream cakes, jars of dulce de leche, Messina brand candles, and five bottles of Messina Jersey milk.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img style="width: 272.5290697674419px; height:500px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7846372/screen-shot-2021-12-15-at-20204-pm.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/ccc6da68dc4041ebb80c24254ccdb996" /></p> <p dir="ltr">In addition to photos of the order, Messina also posted a text exchange where someone was sharing the story, writing, “So [blank] called me and told me her mate has a five year old kid. And the little dude was playing with the dads phone. And ended up ordering $1200 of messina to the dads workplace.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The recipient replies, “hahah holy f*** on uber eats? Did the order actually go through?” to which the answers were yes and yes. He continued, “They didn’t know until the drive called him trying to drop it off. So the dad had to go to his work in Newtown to pick it up.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The photo of the haul is quite something - bags of milk, ice cream containers, at least a dozen jars of dulce de leche, and several boxes of Messina cakes.</p> <p dir="ltr">Hopefully the man’s colleagues, hardworking firefighters, all enjoy a sweet treat after a long shift. Otherwise, everyone’s getting dulce de leche in their Christmas stockings!</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Sally Anscombe</em></p>

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer cake

<p><strong>Cake base ingredients:</strong></p> <ul> <li>1 x quantity gingerbread dough (<a href="https://kitchen.nine.com.au/in-season/easy-halloween-gingerbread-recipe/947fc84e-7341-49c1-aa1d-d8cb29451b01">recipe here </a>for the dough)</li> <li>3 x supermarket mud cakes</li> <li>1 x packet of ready-to-roll coloured fondant (the multipack from the supermarket)</li> <li>cornflour, to dust the bench</li> </ul> <p><strong>Chocolate buttercream frosting:</strong></p> <ul> <li>500g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature</li> <li>4 cups icing sugar</li> <li>1 cup cocoa powder</li> <li>2 tablespoon milk</li> </ul> <h3><strong>Method</strong></h3> <ol> <li>First, you will need to make your gingerbread antlers. You can make chocolate antlers by melting chocolate and spreading it in big strokes on some baking paper and then letting them set in the fridge. They are a little more fragile than gingerbread but are quick to make.</li> </ol> <p> </p> <ol start="2"> <li>Next, whip up your buttercream frosting. Beat butter with an electric mixer until pale in colour (it's an obvious change, so keep going until it's nice and light). Using a spatula scrape down the sides of the bowl, intermittently, so that you don't end up with yellow lumps.</li> <li>Add the icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat between each addition, then add the cocoa powder the same way. Add milk 1 teaspoon at a time until completely incorporated. Put the icing into piping bags until you need it, to make it easy to work with.</li> </ol> <p> </p> <ol start="4"> <li>Now it's time to build Rudolph. Take your mud cakes out of the packaging and stack them one on top of the other, using buttercream between the layers to hold them together. Cover the whole outside in the frosting and smooth to an even finish. Then place the cake into the fridge to set the frosting a little.</li> </ol> <p> </p> <ol start="5"> <li>Meanwhile, take your fondants out of the pack and choose your Christmas colours. Sprinkle some cornflour on your bench to stop the fondant sticking and roll a Rudolph nose from the red fondant, some closed eye lines from the black, a scarf from the green and any other touches you want. But the beauty is that for this face, you don't need many details. Once the cake has firmed a little it's time to place all the elements.</li> </ol> <p> </p> <ol start="5"> <li>Position the scarf, eyes and nose on Rudolph, then use a knife to make slots in the top of the cake where your antlers go and gently slot them in. Turn the hearts upside down to make the ears and press them into the cake in front of the antlers. Finally, use the leftover buttercream to create a main out of buttercream swirls that will secure and support the antlers. And Rudolph is ready for the reindeer games!</li> </ol>

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McDonald's employee reveals secret ingredient

<p><em>Images: TikTok &amp; Paul J. Richards</em></p> <p>Still wondering why your DIY Big Mac doesn’t quite taste the same as the real thing? Well one Macca's employee has revealed on TikTok the one ingredient that goes into their famous sauce.</p> <p>In a now deleted TikTok, posted by @maccas_myths it has been shared that the fast-food giant used two types of onions, one of which was used in its burgers for flavour.</p> <p>“At Maccas, we have two of types of onions,” they said.</p> <p>“Large onions which have been cut up and dehydrated onions which are put in water over night.”</p> <p>After soaking them over night, the dehydrated onions are put in shakers and used in the chain’s Big Macs, hamburgers and cheeseburgers, according to the <em>Daily Mail Australia</em>.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7846287/new-project-5.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/793f0abb9c5343a0b9c3fb5db5b6f3f0" /></p> <p>Not only do dehydrated onions last longer, but they also have a stronger flavour — something Macca’s fans claimed was what made the restaurant’s burgers taste so good.</p> <p>“Those dehydrated onions hit differently,” one person wrote, while another said: “I rehydrate onion flakes for my burgers at home because my kids say it tastes just like McDonald’s.”</p> <p>“Did not know onions could be dried like that. That’s crazy,” one person commented, while another added: “I never knew this OMG.”</p> <p>“I don’t care,” one loyal fan shared. “I love those onions and want to buy some of those packs to make them at home.”</p> <p> </p> <p> </p>

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"This is insane": Mum and son’s amazing find in Coles eggs

<p dir="ltr">Mother and son Kirsten and Kai got an amazing surprise when they started making breakfast on Monday. The pair were whipping up some bacon and eggs while holidaying in Yamba on the NSW North Coast when they discovered an egg with a double yolk.</p> <p dir="ltr">Kirsten quickly shared a video of Kai cracking double yolk eggs into the fry pan to the Coles Facebook page, showcasing a total of nine double yolk eggs and 18 yolks.</p> <p dir="ltr">Alongside the 44-second video, Kirsten wrote, “Nine eggs and 18 yolks. Where do you get your chickens Coles?”</p> <p dir="ltr"><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7846230/eggs2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/189f6ee613534b95807917e297feef1f" /></p> <p dir="ltr">In the video, Kirsten says, “This is insane”, as Kai cracks the eighth double yolk egg into the frying pan. “Are you doing another one?” she asks, to which he responds, “Oh yeah, I’ll do another one,” while cracking a ninth egg, again with two yolks.</p> <p dir="ltr">The video concludes with Kirsten displaying the label of the dozen Coles Jumbo Free Range Eggs, purchased from the Coles store in Yamba earlier this week. She added, “These are the eggs you want to be getting guys.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Speaking to<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://au.news.yahoo.com/coles-shoppers-wild-find-eggs-while-cooking-breakfast-014931372.html" target="_blank"><em>Yahoo News Australia</em></a><em>,<span> </span></em>Kirsten said Kai was excited when they discovered the first egg, and mind-blown as the eggs continued to produce two yolks each.</p> <p dir="ltr">She laughed and said, “There’s still three eggs in the carton. Might be a full dozen doublers. Don’t know what’s going on with the chickens up here."</p> <p dir="ltr">She added that perhaps it was a lucky sign, saying, “Might have to buy a lotto ticket!”</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, the chances of getting a double yolker are one in 1000. This means that getting nine double-yolk eggs in the same carton is about a one in octillion chance, or or 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.</p> <p dir="ltr">Double yolk eggs occur when a hen’s “ovary is too enthusiastic” and releases more than one yolk during her daily ovulation cycle.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Meredith Heuer, Facebook</em></p>

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George Calombaris admits to “crying a lot" during wage theft scandal

<p dir="ltr">Former<span> </span><em>MasterChef<span> </span></em>judge and restaurateur George Calombaris has opened up about his wage theft scandal in 2019, admitting that he “cried a lot” as it unfolded.</p> <p dir="ltr">Talking to Sam Newman and Don Scott for their<span> </span><em>You Cannot Be Serious<span> </span></em>podcast, Calombaris said of the scandal, “It was brutal and I cried a lot.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In 2019, the Fair Work Ombudsman ordered his hospitality group, Made Establishment, to pay back $7.8 million to workers after failing to pay them penalty rates for several years. Calombaris was also personally penalised $200,000 for the underpayments. His decade-long stint as a judge on<span> </span><em>MasterChef<span> </span></em>was brought to an end that year, after contract negotiations between judges Calombaris, Matt Preston, and Gary Meighan, and Network Ten, broke down.</p> <p dir="ltr">Throughout the scandal, he maintained that it was a mistake caused by inexperience. In addition, as the scandal was unfolding, Calombaris was charged with assault after shoving a 19-year-old at the 2017 A-League grand final for heckling him about the controversy.</p> <p dir="ltr">Early last year, it was announced that Made Establishment had entered voluntary administration. Calombaris admitted on the podcast that he drank during this time, and was an “emotional wreck”. He said, “I drank a lot, I really did. When I drink, I don’t get aggressive, but when I drink excessively like I did in that period, I’m an emotional wreck.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I probably should have opened up more. I was trying to fix it all behind a closed door and I was literally fist-punching myself internally and emotionally.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In 2017, Made Establishment calculated that its current workforce had been underpaid $2.6 million and publicly disclosed the issue, immediately repaying 162 people and committing to working with Fair Work Australia to ensure the matter was finalised.</p> <p dir="ltr">It eventually came out that the problem was much worse than that, however, with the company being informed in 2019 that they had underpaid staff by $7.8 million, affecting 515 employees over a six-year period. Of the revelation, Calombaris said, “We went to Fair Work and said, ‘Guys we found these issues, we’re paying up, every cent, but we also want to give it to a journalist to talk the story.”</p> <p dir="ltr">"Hopefully that will get everyone else in an industry that is rife with payments under tables and stuff like that, for everyone to pull their socks up. That turned. That became, ‘George Calombaris the wage thief’, ‘George Calombaris in his Toorak mansion living the big life’, blah blah. It went disgustingly bad.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Unfortunately, the name George Calombaris, when it was high, everyone was flying and loved it, everyone wanted to be around it. But when they did that list I became this poster boy as the wage thief. It punched us right in the face.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Daniel Munoz/WireImage</em></p>

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Australia's pork panel officially reveal the best value Christmas ham in Australia

<p>The Christmas ham is the glistening centrepiece of every table come this time of the year.</p> <p>With the big day fast approaching, the question on the minds of many is: Where do I get the “perfect” ham? There is where Australian Pork steps in. To help narrow It down, CEO Margo Andrae has stepped in to let shoppers know what to choose and what to look for when buying their Christmas ham.</p> <p>“We know from our research that over 78% of shoppers will purchase their ham from their local supermarket. With our Supermarket Ham Taste Test, we want to take the work out of choosing a ham for Australians, and provide a cheat sheet for any budget and any celebration size this year,” Ms Andrae says.</p> <p>Ms Andrea, together with celebrity chef Adrian Richardson and award-winning free range pig producer Judy Croagh, blind taste-tested 20 hams from all the major retailers on best taste and value.</p> <p>All making their way through the pork, it was Woolworth’s Double Smoked Half Leg Ham at $12.50/kg that has taken the crown for best pork in 2021.</p> <p>Judges described it as having a sweet and light aroma, clean robust appearance and deliciously delicate taste.</p> <p>The overall Value Ham also came from Woolworths, with the Half Leg Ham available at $8.50/kg.</p> <p>“This ham had a beautiful balance smoky aroma, flavour with a good bite,” said one of the judges.</p> <p>Woolworth’s commercial director Jason McQuaid said they’re thrilled both hams have been recognised with these awards.</p> <p>“With customers starting to plan their Christmas celebrations, we’re expecting more than 1.75 million kilos of our Woolworths Half Leg Ham, a 20% increase from last year, to fly off the shelves in the lead up to Christmas,” Mr McQuiad said.</p> <p>Coles, Costco and IGA’s top hams cost just $8.50 a kilo, with Aldi’s best-selling ham just a few dollars more at $11.99.</p> <p>The judges were blown away by the free-range Berkshire full leg ham on the bone from</p> <p>Costco, awarding it the Premium Buy at $19.99 per kilogram.</p> <p>Ham sales have gone up 20 per cent from 2020, as families prepare for a much-needed celebration after another tough year.</p> <p><strong>GLAZING YOUR HAM</strong></p> <p>This comes down to four steps, as recommended by Australian Pork.</p> <ol> <li>Prepare your favourite glaze recipe</li> <li>Remove rind and use a sharp knife to score ham in a diamond pattern</li> <li>Place ham scored side up in a large baking pan and brush over glaze</li> <li>Place into a preheated oven or hooded barbecue at 180°C for 20 minutes per kg, basting occasionally, until ham is brown and warmed through</li> </ol> <p><strong>STORING YOUR HAM</strong></p> <ol> <li>Soak a Ham Bag, pillowcase or tea towel in 4 cups of water and 2 tbsp vinegar</li> <li>Wring out excess liquid and place or wrap ham inside</li> <li>Store in coolest part of fridge</li> <li>Re-soak bag in solution every few days or when Ham Bag dries out</li> </ol>

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Matt Preston posts "one of the finest hacks on TikTok"

<p dir="ltr">Former<span> </span><em>Masterchef<span> </span></em>judge and food critic Matt Preston has joined TikTok, and it seems people are divided on whether his presence on the platform is a good thing, or whether it’s a sign he’s “fallen from grace”.</p> <p dir="ltr">After sharing a tutorial on how to make sweet chilli instant ramen, which he calls “one of the finest hacks on TikTok”, Preston received numerous positive comments, with one commenter saying “tonight’s dinner plans have changed. We are all having Matt’s noodle recipe for dinner!” and another saying, “I am seriously loving you being on TikTok!”</p> <div class="embed"><iframe class="embedly-embed" src="https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2Fembed%2F7026218413043305729&amp;display_name=tiktok&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2F%40mattpreston%2Fvideo%2F7026218413043305729%3Flang%3Den&amp;key=59e3ae3acaa649a5a98672932445e203&amp;type=text%2Fhtml&amp;schema=tiktok" width="340" height="700" scrolling="no" title="tiktok embed" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; fullscreen" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe></div> <p dir="ltr">Not everyone was so complimentary, however. Several comments referenced his former role as judge on the ever-popular cooking show, with one writing, “The bloke’s really fallen from grace”, while another said, “The new judges are better than you and co ever were”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Others wrote, “From a MasterChef judge to two-minute noodles chef, big drop”, and “That’s not good food”, while others rushed to defend him. “He could certainly find ways of building this TikTok, but wouldn’t say he’s fallen from grace just because he’s not viral. He’s a nice guy with good food,” one supporter said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Several asked him to write down the recipe as they couldn’t follow the fast-paced video, with one person commenting, “I respect this man for bringing his cooking to TikTok, looks amazing and I’m going to make it.” Several people commented on his appearance, with one person writing, “I don’t know what he cooked, I was too busy looking at his handsome face. What a man!” while another wrote, “Your hair, sir. It is magnificent. Truly!”</p> <p dir="ltr">Since joining the site in October, Preston has accrued nearly 50,000 followers and almost 420,000 likes.</p> <p dir="ltr">Preston made his TikTok debut shortly after it was announced that several former<span> </span><em>Masterchef<span> </span></em>stars will be returning in 2022 for a ‘Foodies vs Favourites’ season, including season one superstar Julie Goodwin.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Tiktok</em></p>

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Best Aussie meat pie crowned

<p><em>Image: The Today Show</em></p> <p>The coveted title of Australia’s best, no-fuss plain meat pie has been won by a WA bakery.</p> <p>Pinjarra Bakery takes the crown for baker of the ‘Best Plain Meat Pie’ in Australia, at The Official Great Aussie Pie Competition.</p> <p>The bakery, located one hour south of Perth also has three locations in Waroona, Maddington and Port Kennedy. They are reportedly “stoked” to gain the title for their much loved ‘Chunky pie’.</p> <p>“We’re absolutely stoked!! Best meat pie in Australia…gotta be happy with that! Thank you to the judges and everyone at @officialauspie” the bakery wrote on a post made on the competition’s Instagram page.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CSl7PU2te2c/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CSl7PU2te2c/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Pinjarra Bakery (@pinjarra_bakery)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Pinjarra Bakery steals the title from the last year’s winner, Rolling Pin Pies &amp; Cakes in Ocean Grove, Victoria.</p> <p>The competition holds 18 different pastry categories, including ‘Best Gourmet Pie,’ ‘Best Gourmet Sausage Roll,’ ‘Best Plain Sausage roll’, ‘Best Vegetarian Pie’ and ‘Best Apple Pie’.</p> <p>This year, 'Best Gourmet Pie' went to the 'Dancing Scallop Pie' baked at Paradise Bakehouse in Queensland, while 'Best Gourmet Sausage Roll' went to the 'Garlick Chicken Roll' baked at The Little Red Grape Bakery in South Australia.</p> <p>Founded in 1989, the competition aims to recognise the high-quality pie-making standards of Australian bakers.</p> <p>According to the competition website, each entry is assessed to some basic criteria. Pies are expected to have a pastry top with "good lamination" that is also "not too thick". While fillings must have absolutely no "gristle or bone" and have a balanced "meat to pastry ratio".</p>

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Turns out you've been mashing potatoes wrong this whole time

<p><em>Images: Tiktok and Getty</em></p> <p>When it comes to producing the perfect creamy mashed potatoes, the internet is full of conflicting advice and information.</p> <p>Some swear by peeling and cutting them before boiling, then mashing them while still hot. Others are convinced the way to do it is to keep the skin on while boiling and remove it later, just before mashing them up to make that creamy consistency.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7845866/new-project.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/be568044463347f38c5f1a7ab19415e8" /></p> <p>One of the problems with this method is, it can be difficult to peel the potatoes while still hot so they mash properly, which could be where The Wiggles drew their inspiration for the song ‘Hot Potato’.</p> <p>Instead, there is a kitchen hack you can use to peel hot potatoes without burning your fingers that will also help you mash them.</p> <p>Cooking ‘guru’ Lora McLaughlin Peterson has shared her method on TikTok @lorefied.</p> <p>Lora explains she boils her potatoes before slicing them in half. Once this is done, she places a wire cooking rack over a glass pie dish. The next step is pushing the potatoes down and through the wire rack, which serves to both mash them and remove the skin.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7845867/new-project-2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f49cf08674724a83a473e9a732590d65" /></p> <p>Once this is all done, she is left with rustic mashed potatoes that can be placed in a bowl and finished with salt, butter, milk and whatever else you desire.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 349.5145631067961px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7845865/new-project-1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/e495c69ccf9743fa9831a2e1656f7f80" /></p> <p>This is the latest cooking hack to go viral and the perfect advice ahead of the festive season.</p>

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