If you haven’t noticed I’m rather prolific over on Instagram… ahem, and therefore each time I pull together a list for In My Kitchen I simply scroll back through photos shared since the last post to work out what’s been going on. There is a bit of a method to the madness, even if the resulting collections appear as slightly randomly grouped items all in one place. That said my life is slightly random when put all in one place, so it fits.
Anyway, it’s once again time to link up with Celia for IMK, so here we go, in loosely interpreted categories and no particular order.
The Book Shelf
It has been a huge month for gorgeous books and while I’m hoping to feature some of these on their own I wanted to make sure to mention them here.
Tasty Express – Simple, stylish & delicious dishes for people on the go
It is becoming more and more common for bloggers to publish books and two of my Aussie-based favouites released theirs simultaneously this month!
Sneh Roy of Cook Republic is a pocket powerhouse, seriously, and her first book*, Tasty Express is simply another feather in her already overflowing cap.
An amazing photographer with an eye for styling, Sneh has been blogging for over eight years, and last year she not only won a host of blogging awards but also secured a book deal. She was given only 40 days to write, test and photograph it — all while finishing up her last semester of a design degree and juggling the day-to-day of two young boys.
The fact that the result is so enticing is a testament to her dedication (and apparently unending supply of creative juice). See, powerhouse (also, total sweetheart).
There are plenty of cookbooks I leaf through just for the glossy photos and while this does sit firmly in that category, I also want to make pretty much every single thing. Ok, more soon…
My Darling Lemon Thyme – Recipes from my real food kitchen
Emma Galloway of My Darling Lemon Thyme is the second blogger I know who has released a book* this month and to say I’ve been anticipating it for nearly a year is an understatement!
I’ve ‘known’ Emma online for a while but had to pleasure to actually meet her in person, and have a lovely chat over lunch, at last year’s Eat.Drink.Blog conference. Her story is not one of overnight discovery but a conscious decision to develop a book proposal and send it around until someone bit — and thank goodness they did.
A soft-spoken, New Zealand ex-pat, Emma is amazingly passionate about food and it comes through in every word, recipe and photo on her blog and in her book.
She is gluten-free, vegetarian and a huge supporter of real, unprocessed food — but don’t think for a moment that makes the recipes any less mouthwatering or at all complex to prepare. More on this one soon too…
Monday Morning Cooking Club – The Feast Goes On
The book is like a big warm hug from your favourite aunt and is overflowing with recipes you will want to add to your own family history. As said by Indira Naidoo at the launch, “this is food that is unapologetic about being rich…”, and that is not necessarily a bad thing every now and then.
If you don’t know about the lovely ladies of the Monday Morning Cooking Club it’s high time you discover them. The women started cooking together in 2006 and from the onset the plan was to create a cookbook for charity. T
his project grew into a chronicling the history of Jewish cooking, ultimately preserving recipes and stories for future generations. All proceeds from the books go to the club’s chosen charity groups. In other news I want some or all of them to adopt me.
Surprise-Inside Cakes – Amazing cakes for every occasion, with a little something extra inside
Most books I’ve received from publishers are preceded by an email from the publicist, or perhaps the author, asking if I would like a copy for editorial consideration. This book however was a completely unexpected* surprise inside my PO Box — hahaha yep, I just went there.
If you have ever browsed Pinterest you have come across at least one — if not a hundred — of Amanda Rettke’s creations.
Yet another blogger, albeit one I haven’t met personally, Amanda of I am Baker is known for her mind-boggling-how-on-earth?? designs nestled into the middle of perfect layer cakes. In the pages of Surprise-Inside Cakes, all is revealed.
Some of the cakes are made using cake-pop mixture moulding, some with layer carving and constructions and some with a bit of batter magic. They all provide light-bulb, “oh that’s how it’s done” moments. One of my favourite cakes is an incredibly simple rainbow checkerboard cake I’m determined to make and post — once I have a mad-science-as-usual base recipe I’m happy with…
Have you heard about Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea? It’s a charity fundraising event and I’ve been a supporter for a fair few years. It’s a cause close to my heart and I am constantly amazed at the work done by the Cancer Council for research — as well as in supporting those undergoing treatment, families, and survivors.
If you are interested in getting involved you can register on ABMT site and host your own physical or virtual morning tea to raise money. Personally I’ll be sending some goodies with RJ to his work’s morning tea event, and I also plan on posting a recipe and donating via the lovely Erika Rax’s virtual event.
Last weekend we popped into a Farmers’ Market and bought autumn. Hello, chestnuts.
Gourmet Garden has recently released a new product — lightly dried herbs*. The idea is that each pack contains roughly a bunch-worth of whatever herb in question, chopped and lightly dried. The pieces re-hydrate with a touch of moisture from your food and stay fresh for 4 weeks from opening. It means you always have herbs on demand and less forgotten, slimy half bunches in your crisper.
Wearing my commercial hat, I find it quite an ingenious concept, especially for the majority of grocery store shoppers. The packs cost the same as a bunch, and for most uses — throwing on pizzas, into stir fries or bakes or burgers — they add a punch of fresh herbyness.
I do prefer fresh, always, yet I am one of those people who has half a bunch of this and half a bunch of that perpetually dying in the crisper. In the absence of an herb garden at my door, these have come in handy in a pinch. When I originally shared this on social media there was a pretty even split between “oh that is useful” and “I’ll never touch herbs from anywhere but my garden”, fair enough, I’m not here to judge, just to share.
If you are however someone with all sorts of things languishing in the crisper and a deep-seeded dislike of waste, this is what I’ve been doing to avoid binning it all.
Step one, take all the green things out of the fridge…
Step two, blend all the green things together…
All-the-green-things Pesto [an almost recipe]
- a garlic clove or two
- kale, watercress, parsley, dill (rescued from the brink), or whatever green things you have on hand
- good squeeze of lemon juice
- enough olive oil to make a paste
- sea salt to taste
In a small processor chop garlic, add all the green things and chop, add lemon juice and blend.
Add oil and blend until as smooth or rustic as you wish. Season with salt. Put on all the things.
A craving for fresh pasta resulting in finishing off random bags of durum wheat and whole spelt to make dough. I laminated and rolled it out by hand because it is easier and much more calming than dragging out my pasta roller machine.
Remember those Kaffir Limes I found at the organic grocer last month? They were finally zested (zest frozen), and juiced (juice and caviar frozen). Now to just remember to put it into everything.
Huon Aquaculture asked if I wanted to try* some of their Reserve Selection products. Um, yeah. They ended up as a Blackened Salmon Reuben and a Smoked Salmon Breakfast Pizza with the leftovers tossed into pretty much anything else we ate for a few weeks. Gorgeous stuff.
I’ve been in love with Heilala Vanilla vanilla paste for ages, but have been out of it for quite a while. Imagine my excitement when I found their stand at a recent cake show.
It isn’t cheap suff and retails for about $23 for a 100ml jar, needless to say the show special of $45 for 400ml was not only a stunning deal but will theoretically keep me in vanilla paste for years. As a side note this company has some great ethics behind them and has recently formed their own foundation to support their farmers.
Recent impulse purchases at the local organic grocery store — ground stevia leaf and the only coconut milk I’ve even seen in a BPA free can.
The leaf smells like hay and while it does add sweetness to things it also carries a slightly odd grassy note (it is a ground up plant after all). I’m yet to try the coconut milk though.
What else would be in the goodie bag* from The Intercontinental Sydney’s A Taste Of… The Dairy dinner include other than butter, yoghurt, creme fraiche, cheese and of course brioche. Be still my heart (and my arteries). There are no words. Also, this.
The dessert diaries
The lovely Sally messaged me a few weeks back to ask if I would like to be a taste-tester for some macarons she was developing for an order. Then she hand delivered them wrapped in the cutest little box, tied with the cutest string. This woman makes some insane macarons.
It isn’t too often that I make fancy iced cakes but when I came across a stand at a cake show selling AmeriColour gels at 4 for $12 ($3 each is really cheap for AU) I had to grab a couple.
Not all the ones in the pic, obviously, just one each of Egg Yellow, Electric Purple, Mint Green and Turquoise. You know, just in case.
This is not my kitchen or even my house, it is however one of the best cakes I’ve had in quite a while. When a blogger obsessed with sweets has an engagement party a dessert buffet is not particularly surprising. A cake made by Andy Bowdy (pastry chef extraordinaire at HartsYard) however is the prodigal cherry on top.
Seriously, if you want a cake that is as far from fondant covered fruit cake as you can get, Andy is your man.
Remember those Rainbow Whole-Fruit Ice Pops that sent Pinterest into meltdown? I made my own pop sleeves as the only ones I could find were in the US, but I recently received an email from Zip Pops, a small local producer, asking if they could share a link to the post on their Facebook page.
They then sent me a few Zip Pops to try out* and I, of course, immediately made a batch of Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream to fill them.
The sleeves are slightly larger than the ones I made (more popsicle for your enjoyment) and slightly more durable too with an easy-seal zip at the top. Zip Pops advise users to stand filled pops in a glass in the freezer, however nothing stands up in my freezer and so, as I did with my original ones, I simply laid them on a tray in a single layer until frozen.
Props and plates and processors oh my (aka #oppshopobsession)
For Christmas RJ told me he was getting me a tripod, I finally ordered it a few weeks ago and I am endlessly pleased with it. Not the most expensive but not the least, it sits somewhere in the middle.
The frame is incredibly stable and the head has all the functionality I wanted including the ability to extend for straight down shots. Merry Christmas to me.
I’ve been painting boards. 600 x 900 x 6mm MDF to be exact, using plain old craft store acrylic paint and a few sample tubs from the hardware store.
Each board starts with a rough idea of what I am going for, followed by much layering, wiping, watering down, mixing, layering, making it up as I go.
Self-medicating through oppshop browsing.
Last weekend I may have picked up a half crate of tiles at Reverse Garbage (inside the Marrickville Market grounds) for a sum total of $5. RJ may have not been impressed, but how else will I make a tiled backdrop for photography?
How does your garden grow
Did you see all the seeds in the kaffir lime pulp above? I stuck a few into the perpetual sprouting pot on the windowsill and what do you know, this happened.
A second little sprout also showed up but disintegrated soon thereafter. The remaining one has been re-potted into the finger lime pot — fingers are crossed it holds on.
That’s all folks
That about does it for this month! Make sure to pop over to check out the other IMK posts — there is always great stuff — and in the meantime I’ll start collecting for May…
* Asterisked items were gifted to me in accordance with my editorial policy. Nothing here is a paid sponsorship. All opinions are fully my own. Supercalafragalisticexpialadoshus. Beam me up Scotty.