How I shop: Annabel Crabb

Writer, political commentator and TV host Annabel Crabb – and mum of three - is not the regular shopper in her household. “Usually this strategic task is performed by the less impulsive adult in our home, for solid reasons,” she says. “But when I’m twirling a trolley down the aisles, there are a few things that always get tossed in.”

Photo of Annabel Crabb

Popular ABC political commentator and foodie Annabel Crabb is a self-confessed “salt fiend”.

In Annabel's trolley:

Butter

I have a shocking fear of running out. (Note: I define “running out” as having less than one kilo of butter in my fridge). [Co-author and ABC’s 7.30 host] Leigh Sales and I, in our new book, spend a bit of time canvassing one of our deepest and most poisonous disagreements; she uses margarine whereas I’m Team Butter all the way. 

Instant noodles

OK, quell your sharp intake of breath, please. If you’ve lived through prolonged lockdown in a home with two adults juggling full-time jobs and three kids doing remote learning, you learn to love Indo Mie pretty fast. Served with a soft-fried egg on top… perfection.

Frozen gyoza

Another fast-food champion. You don’t even need a steamer basket; just a frypan with a lid. Little bit of oil in the pan, put the gyoza in (flat side down) straight from the freezer, fry ’til they crisp up on the bottom, then dump in half a cup of water and cover. They’ll steam in five minutes and then you have pot stickers and happy customers.

Capers

I’m obsessed with them. My mum grows them! But that is a long and fascinating story for another day. Currently I like the tiny Lilliputian ones. I like them in salads, fried in butter so they get all crispy (nice with fish) and I also know Leigh Sales hates them which means I can get a laugh out of sneaking them into a sandwich for her. You’ve got to make your own fun in this game.

Broccoli

Always in the basket. It’s a vegetable that fits into every bit of the family Venn diagram. One kid loves corn, one of them doesn’t, the third is neutral. I’ve never managed to raise even one kid who will eat a fresh tomato. I have a small but extremely determined pea-dodger. But broccoli, thanks to some indeterminate celestial intervention, is something everyone likes. I love it steamed with Kewpie Roasted Sesame Dressing. Or chargrilled. Jeremy [Annabel’s partner Jeremy Storer] does an amazing salad with raw broccoli chopped up and dressed with lemon juice, Greek yoghurt, red onion, currants, and toasted slivered almonds. It’s superb.

Cumin

There’s something wrong with my brain in that I always think we’re out of cumin and we never actually are. In fact, we’re usually in cumin surplus because I’m always buying it. My favourite thing to do with cumin seeds is to toast them with sesame seeds in a dry pan ’til they’re fragrant, then bash ’em up in a mortar and pestle with salt flakes and dip a boiled egg in them. Quail eggs, if you’re in a fancy mood.

Frozen peas

One of the few foodstuffs of which it can be said that the frozen version is competitive with the fresh! If you don’t have pea vines outside your door and obedient children to shell them for you in a bucolic fantasy dream sequence, then a kilo bag of snap-frozen baby peas is absolutely the next best thing. And if you quickly blanch a cup or two of peas and whiz them up with some lemon, mint, olive oil, black pepper and feta you will have yourself an incredibly delicious asset to deploy on toast or toss through pasta. Eat it straight away while the colours are vibrant.

Avocados

I reckon about 80 per cent of my lockdown lunches are avocado on toast or on a rice cake with lots of salt and pepper. 

Haloumi

As you’re probably gathering, I am a salt fiend and if I had to give up salt or sugar, it wouldn’t even be a contest. And when you’re wandering through the cheese aisle and you idly ask yourself “I wonder whoever buys those giant 1kg blocks of haloumi”, the answer is “me”. I buy them. And they do not go to waste. I grate haloumi into a cheese mix for cheese on toast as a way of levering more salt in to the situation. It’s good on top of a chickpea bake, laid out in slices as a crust. And if you cut thick slices and grill them alongside fat spears of asparagus, you have yourself a visually pleasing and usually crowd-pleasing 10-minute dish.

Dark chocolate

Don’t worry, I’m not one of those infuriating people who says things like “Sometimes, if I’m feeling naughty, I treat myself with two squares of dark chocolate…” Bugger that for a joke. I keep dark chocolate on hand for its proper use. Choc chip biscuits, cake, ganaches and chocolate mousse.

 

Well Hello, by Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales, is published by Penguin Books, and available now from book retailers.