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Two Oily Rag Treats

This week we have some real treats for readers. Those living off the smell of an oily rag know how to live with a dash of panache. Here are a couple of iconic Kiwi classics to make on a rainy day!

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman 

This week we have some real treats for readers. Those living off the smell of an oily rag know how to live with a dash of panache. Here are a couple of iconic Kiwi classics to make on a rainy day!

No-one can claim to be a ‘real’ Kiwi cook without knowing how to whip up a tasty pav’. There are lots of recipes but the key ingredients don’t generally change. (Here’s something from the “did you know” file: did you know the first pavlova recipe was published in 1926, the year Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, toured New Zealand and Australia – hence its name.)

For those with lots of eggs, it is a low cost treat. All you need are 4 egg whites, 1 cup castor (fine) sugar, 1 teaspoon vinegar, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, and 1 tablespoon corn flour.

Preheat the oven to 150C. Beat the egg whites until stiff (when peaks like the Southern Alps form). Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating after each. Beat for another 10 minutes or so then sprinkle the remaining ingredients in and mix. Place the mixture onto a baking paper covered tray (baking paper not grease proof paper!), and shape into a circle about 200mm in diameter. Put the pav into the oven and turn down to 125C. Wait an hour then turn the oven off. Leave it in the oven until cold or overnight (this forms the nice crust).

Top your creation with a layer of cream and slices of kiwifruit (of course!), or strawberries as an alternative. That’s Kiwi cooking!

The second treat is the Oily Rag Burger. They are cheaper and bigger than the bought ones, and a real treat in an oily rag household. All you really need is mince and a couple of buns (and heaps of tomato sauce!). Any number of ingredients can be added depending on your appetite and what is available at the time. We reckon it would look something like this: toast bread or buns, a big mince pattie (whatever is on special), sliced tomato from your garden, slug free garden fresh lettuce, beetroot, avocado, fried onions, a home-grown fried egg, and so on. There’s no limit to what you can add.

Members of the Oily Rag Club have lots of variations.

Tara from Palmerston North writes, “Here’s a trick my good cook mother taught me to make delicious cheese for a burger. Use onion pieces, whole rings work best, placed on the grill (flat grill) then add cheese (Edam works well) within the onion rings to melt. Cheese is contained within the onion borders making a cheese patty of sorts and the combined taste of melted cheese and onion flavour is yum yum on a burger!”

Sam from Te Awamutu says, “Buy your buns in the morning. Shops usually have a good selection of day old bread at a reduced price. You can toast the buns for your burgers and no-one will ever know they weren’t totally fresh.”

Cate from Hamilton says, “When we were both studying with a young family we discovered that adding a good heap of rolled oats to the mince mixture was a fantastic healthy ‘stretcher’ to bulk up the patties. Even better is to then add grated carrot or zucchini which puts moisture back into the patty and is unrecognisable to those fussy vegetable averse people!”

Bon appétit!

Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag by Frank & Muriel Newman is available from all good bookstores or online at If you have some favourite tips, you can share them with others by visiting the oily rag website or writing to Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.

*Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at The book is available from bookstores and online at