Cooking without eating

NOT ALL COOKING IS for eating. In fact some of the most satisfying and useful recipes don’t involve food at all. Mixing two-stroke oil and petrol, let’s say, or concrete, sand and water, these are two favourites of people who like putting together or deconstructing the built environment. If you want an article for The Australian, mix fear, uncertainty, and doubt; for the Sydney Morning Herald, property prices, Sydney Grammar’s first XV, and a beach; for the Daily Telegraph, hard working mums, Muslims, the welfare system, and any given arterial roadway in western Sydney. Much, much, easier than cooking. It’s a source of national shame that our apprentice chefs and bricklayers’ labourers are paid less for their routine mixing than the trowel-wielding wordsmiths of our newspapers. But to the recipes! Here are two old favourites I’ve put together recently.


Thoroughly sterilise all your equipment. To a supermarket-bought kit of lager, add dextrose, the yeast that comes with the kit, stir, then leave in your friend’s laundry for a week or so. The brewer’s yeast will turn the sugar into delicious alcohol. Into each sterilised bottle, add a bit of sugar for carbonation. Wait a couple of weeks. Crack open and enjoy!

Black and white film

Mix up developer, stop bath, and fixer, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This is as simple as (for the developer) dissolving the contents of bag A at 40ºC, then adding bag B, adding cool water to make a litre, (for the fixer) mixing 1:4 stock fluid with water, (for the stop bath) mixing water with a decent squirt of cheap vinegar, then cooling to the lot to 20ºC ±1º. Obviously on a hot Sydney day that last step is the most difficult. Use ice cubes. I hope you’ve got some thermometers, because the temperature matters.

In a changing bag, transfer the reels of exposed film onto developing spools, then put the reels in the light-proof tank. You can’t open the bag until you’ve closed the developing tank! It’s very easy, but if you haven’t done it since 1998 you’re probably going to exercise your vocabulary.

The rest is reading developing times from tables of temperature, and taking account of how many films have already been developed. It gets weaker each reaction: each film you put through the developer increases the time for later films. Remember to keep the lot in a temperature-stabilising tank of water.

Rinse, using the garden hose, dry the films from a coathanger in the shower, and admire your handiwork.



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David Irving (no relation) · 11 January 2015, 18:38 · #

Bravo! I need to start brewing again. Also, double bravo for B&W film – I remember that stuff.


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