Oh dear it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these posts. I’ve been thinking about it each month then the days come and go and well, here it is, en masse if you will. March/April was the last wrap up so this is a snapshot of mid-April up until today.
Off we go into a few months of stuff, organised into only slightly random categories that make sense in my head, to link up with Celia’s August ‘In My Kitchen’.
Some made by me, some by others, some may appear as review posts. If you want to know any more about any of them, or want to see a giveaway, please let me know and I’ll see what I can do!
I mentioned a few posts back that I’ve been quite busy with some projects recently. One of those projects was the publishing (editing, photographing, design, artwork layout, print production) of a cookbook for a Sydney chef.
With less than 4 weeks from brief to delivery including a slightly hectic weekend of photographing 10 dishes in two days there wasn’t a whole lot else happening.
Jackie M Truly Malaysian Street Food at Home delivered last week just in time for an event Jackie was appearing at up in Newcastle – and I’m so pleased with how it came out! More projects in the future so stay tuned…
Sooooo, I produced some mini-cookbooks back in May for the MCA Zine fair. Five in total, each 30 or so pages with roughly 20-ish recipes per book. I’ve finally set up a proper online store, and they will be available as e-books shortly too… know that saying ‘the cobblers children never have shoes’? Yeah, that. Note to self, create e-books.
Remember the Pear Sandwich that won the ‘What can you pair with a pear’ recipe competition last year? Well it’s finally seen the light of day next to recipes from Maggie Beer and David Bitton (!!) in the Rediscover Australian Pears cookbook.
I attended a Samsung kitchen event recently and not only got to meet the delightful (seriously, such a lovely man) Guillaume Brahimi, but came home with a copy of his gorgeous cookbook*, Guillaume Food for Friends.
Eat for your Life by Alison Taafe is an interesting book* written by a former chef who’s sister beat cancer through diet and alternative therapies. It takes a different approach to many cookbooks, organised into chapters by medical concern (ie foods to fight Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Heart Disease, etc), and is peppered with both medical facts and the author observations from her own experiences.
This is not a book where you will browse over photos of beautiful styled food, but there is a breadth of simple, unprocessed, whole-food recipes fit for pretty much any diet. I’ll certainly be pulling it out when I need inspiration for dinner.
I met the bubbly Patrizia Simone at a chestnut event back in April and she was kind enough to send me home with a copy of her cookbook*. Arranged by season and simply overflowing with stories and recipes from her homeland, My Umbrian Kitchen further perpetuates my desire to go to back Italy as soon as possible. If we ever get to North East Victoria you can bet I’ll be heading straight to her restaurant.
Goodie bags from blogging conferences that are not devoted to food generally contain a miscellaneous assortment of shampoos and vitamins and baby wipes aimed squarely at mommy bloggers (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The Kids Spot Voices 2013 event bags resembled this description quite closely with one significant exception – a copy* of delicious’s Home Cooking by Valli Little.
Food porn at it’s best, styled to it’s eyeballs, and organised into meals by season. Pardon me while I swoon. I will definitely do a more in-depth feature over on Seasonal Sunday Lunch some time soon.
The third (or is it fourth?) cookbook* from Masterchef winner Julie Goodwin, Gather is about the importance of community and the “power of food to bring people together”. The recipes are simple and straightforward, befitting the busy home cook, and the book has a feel-good quality to it.
I must say I found that the chapter organisation by events – such as picnics, street parties and family dinners – interesting, but a bit clunky to navigate. The lack of a full Table of Contents of all recipes had me flipping around sporadically to see what fit where, but the overall concept is still a good one.
I tend to consider event invites based on what I may learn and who will be there, so when an invite came through for a morning tea at Appliances Online’s showroom with the women from the Monday Morning Coooking Club I jumped at the opportunity. I’d read about the cookbook and the women behind it back when it came out and couldn’t wait to meet them.
Chatting to Lisa and Merelyn was like being back home in Philly at my brother’s Mother-in-law’s house, and the Monday Morning Cooking Club book* is infused with the warmth and love that can only be created by recipes and stories passed down through generations. The ladies are launching this book in the US shortly, and working on another book here in Australia – I can’t wait to see it.
Chocolate & tea
I decided to clean out my tea cupboard one day. Ahem. Then I started Tea Time Tuesday.
Remember that event for Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea? This was the goodie bag* we were all sent away with – three more kinds of tea for my collection and a big’ol mug to drink it from. I was ecstatic, RJ was not amused.
After trying their teas at the aforementioned event, I Am Infusion was kind enough to send me a canister of I Am Brains*. This herbal blend is fresh and calming, and the words of inspiration on the little card inside are just what I need on monkey-mind days.
I love presents from home, especially when those presents come in the form of chocolate bars. Small batch, organic, made in Brooklyn, my brother and his wife love Raaka Chocolate, even better it has no soy and no dairy which means he can eat it without having an allergy attack. Lovely and smooth they have all sorts of interesting flavours too.
It all started with a Lindt event to launch their new Creations range. I some how ended up front and centre making a bar with the resident chocolatier, and came home with goodies* galore. Most went to work with RJ and a few I passed on to Swah and Soph at dinner a few nights later.
Before I knew it there was chocolate everywhere – first the Lindt Lindor truffle balls as bars* (um, yeah, that, really), then a bar of coconut dark chocolate* decorated by hand at the Martin Place cafe (you can request whatever message you’d like). I just got an email the other day saying they have launched a limited edition Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. Far out. Must not eat sugar, must not eat sugar…
We have a balcony, I call it the black-thumb balcony because it faces the wrong direction for any kind of plant-life sustaining sunshine. The only place I can grow anything is in our kitchen window and I use it as much as an experiment as anything else.
I’ve mentioned before that I tend to dry seeds simply to plant them and see if they will sprout. I knew that I’d thrown in ones for ball chillies and finger limes but it had been a while since any little sprouts had appeared, so a few days after I re-potted the chilli plants I was shocked to see new growth pop up.
I thought it may have been the limes since I couldn’t remember planting anything else but it started to look suspiciously like coriander. It took me a while to remember that I had tossed in a few seeds from a spice packet one evening. Who knew!
Then the other day this happened… see the glossy slightly spike edged leaves – definitely citrus and therefore definitely finger lime – very exciting!
Remember the ginger sprout? Yeah, it’s gone all Jack and the Beanstalk on me and now a second little shoot has popped up too. Think it may be time for a bigger pot but therein lies the rub – bigger pot won’t fit near the kitchen window…
Stuff in bottles
Just as I ran out of olive oil Bertolli sent me a few bottles* from their new range. I use extra virgin all the time and like the fruitiness of Bertolli for drizzling over pasta and salads, but I try to avoid refined oils and I don’t deep-fry food so the others will be passed on to someone else.
I met the lovely Bimbadgen team when RJ and I were up in the Hunter Valley for the Hunter Chefs & Co 4th Annual Food Fight and really enjoyed their sparkling Semillon so was excited to try the Moscato*. A pretty pink bottle came with us to a Sara’s birthday celebration and while it is a touch sweet for me the bouquet is nice, and a few others there really enjoyed it.
I like chilli. A lot. Really a lot. What doesn’t get doused with sriracha gets sprinkled with hot paprika so when we came across a bottle of ‘found on the table of every Mexican restaurant in America-land’ Cholula hot sauce at Salt Meats Cheese I had to snap it up. It is a milder sauce with a bit of a bite and a hearty dose of salt – perfect for eggs or soup or pretty much anything. We just finished it… whoops.
Fruit & Veg
Hello Fresh was a sponsor of the Winning Appliances Best Home Chef finale and the lovely Winnings girls sent me home from the event with an enormous box* of Hello Fresh fruit and vegetables. My kind of goodie bag ten times over. If you like to cook but have trouble planning meals and shopping you may want to check them out.
Citrus Australia were running a campaign during May and June challenging people to eat an orange every day for 10 days, and I gladly agreed to take part. Vitamin C is a great asset to our immune systems during the winter, but it is water soluble and needs to be replenished daily – hence the eat an orange every day thing.
Australia has some great citrus fruit and with more and more imported fruit coming into the country it is so important to support our local growers and eat what is in season (ok, off my soap box – or orange box* as the case may be).
I had a great time making my way through the oranges and trying to do 10 different things with them. Yes, yes, I need to share these recipes. It’s on the list…
Went to Campsie for a food fair, wandered into a fruit shop on the main drag, came out with all this for only $18. Win, big win.
Why am I showing you bananas? Well a few weeks back we headed off on a road trip up to the north coast of NSW and on the way home pulled over to buy bananas from a road-side farmstand at the edge of a banana grove. These are hands down the best bananas I’ve ever eaten. Ever.
The Australian Passionfruit Growers sent over a box* of enormous passionfruit to play with, and play I did – first for dinner then for dessert.
I had never tasted a chestnut until last year, now I simply adore roasted chestnuts. Lots.
Misc bits and baskets
Last year I did a reference for a colleague and when she got the job she sent me a Simon Johnson gift voucher as thanks (how sweet is she?!). I’ve looked at it sitting on my desk every weekend since and we finally headed to Woollahra a few days ago. The thing I love about gift vouchers is that it lets you buy lots of things you want and probably wouldn’t purchase otherwise.
Case in point, two kinds of Spanish paprika (bitter-sweet and hot), a bag of chestnut flour (see, just a bit obsessed), and a wedge of stinky Holy Goat Cheese. RJ drove home with the window down, I’ve eaten it on toast every day since.
Macadamia posts are a pretty regular thing here and this basket* was from an event in May. I can never have too many macadamia nuts and my stash was just winding down so this was much appreciated!
Lyndey Milan just launched the DVD* of her Taste of Ireland series and I was lucky enough to attend the dinner and come home with a few goodies. It’s been over a decade (yikes) since I was in Ireland for the U2 shows at Slane Castle and I’d go back in a heartbeat. For now I guess I’ll have to settle for a DVD and some soda bread though.
I wasn’t able to make it to the Good Food & Wine Show this year due to a previously planned girls weekend but I did stop by before heading out of town for a pre-opening breakfast* with the Northern Rivers Food group. The Brookfarm porridge sachets and the Byron Bay muesli came in very handy for that road trip we took and of course, more tea, this time Australian grown green from Madura.
I search through the bargain bin every time we go to our local organic shop – it is amazing what you can find on sale and, as I prefer my bananas on the ripe side and don’t mind slightly mangled carrots, it makes for pretty good savings on staples. This was an extra lucky find recently and it is a stunningly smooth paprika.
These hand-made aprons were sold along side those mini-cookbooks at the MCA Zine Fair. I don’t have enough listings in my e-store for them but if you want one let me know and we can work something out!
For my birthday back in May we caught up for brunch with a few friends and I got a couple goodies. I would have never bought fruit tea for myself but this white tea with raspberry is a really nice treat when I want something sweet but not sweetened. How gorgeous are those flowers too?!
Ok, so this isn’t quite in my kitchen but it’s bound to be there at some point. RJ did a very, very good job.
Martyna picked this little gem up for me at an oppshop recently – now I just need to work out how to put it in a post… Souffle or omelet?
Of course I had to make a cake for my birthday, and it was the perfect chance to give one of my favourite sugar-laden creations a healthy flip. It needs a bit more refinement but certainly hit the spot.
When 11 food bloggers go away for a wine and food weekend and decide that one villa will make breakfast the first day, and the other the second day, you end up with two mornings in a row of breakfast as far as the eye can see. These cinnamon rolls were my offering. Adapted from this dough and filled with butter, cinnamon and unprocessed rapadura sugar, I think my eyes rolled back in my head when I took a bite.
A few years back I was regularly taking cake orders, but haven’t been doing many until recently.
This insane thing was made for an 80th birthday. It is one of the best apple cakes ever, filled with dulce de leche and covered with lemon cream cheese icing. The cupcakes were a special add-on for a gluten-free guest.
Then today a couple dozen cupcakes for a kids soccer final – one guess as to what the team colours are.
Equipment & Props
I was recently approached by a company called Oven Express with an offer to try out their cleaning service*. They use a bio-degradable product that is non-toxic and fume free, and while our oven wasn’t terrible it was getting harder and harder to see through the door so we gave it a go.
Other than a slightly rocky start, due to the tech calling just before the time they were due to arrive to push back the appointment, the cleaning went perfectly smoothly and took less than an hour from start to finish.
The oven was spotless and true to their word there were no fumes while the process took place. However a few hours later when we turned on the oven to make dinner the smoke alarm went off and we had to open the windows and run the oven with the door cracked for about an hour before the chemical smell subsided.
So would I recommend them? Yes. The service was quick, clean, didn’t have any odor while it was being done, and left a spotless oven – but take that with the caveat that afterwards you will want to run the oven for a bit with good ventilation while you go for a walk. Now I just need to find someone to clean our shower – any recommendations?
Did I mention that I also came home from that Samsung kitchen event with a bit more than a cookbook? This thing is slightly insane, the back of it looks like a Galaxy phone with touch screen, you can run off wi-fi or put a sim card in it, but it’s a camera*. Still giving it a test to see how it goes in restaurants etc with depth of field, and outdoor for landscapes.
Breville was a more than generous sponsor of the Monday Morning Cooking Club event at Appliances Online and all of us toddled off with a new processor*. In the past few months I’ve gone from burning out both my hand blender and processor to now having a hand blender with a chopper attachment and this full-on processor with a hand blender option. Feast or famine I tell you.
I’ve been making backdrops and one day will do a post about them… on the list, etc, etc.
Finally a few props, just because.
Our trip up the coast uncovered some brilliant finds at a church garage sale and a couple opp shops. The board at $5 was the most expensive one of the bunch and possibly the best purchase I’ve made in a while – it’s already made it into the Truly Malaysian cookbook shoot and some posts.
I found out about the Donna Hay store prop sale on Twitter from a blogger who lives in South Africa. Oh Internets you make me laugh. The shop was having a big clear out before closing (online only now) and as it is only just down the road from Simon Johnson it made for a perfect excuse to stop and browse. One platter and three linen napkins later I was on my way. These gorgeous bowls are from a Japanese homewares store in Haymarket. At $2.80 each it had to be done. My name is JJ and I have a prop addiction. At least they get used regularly.
And that’s it, a weight off my draft folder and a clean start. All these shots were pulled from Instagram because that’s the way I roll.
Make sure to stop over to check out Celia’s IMK post and all the other linked up blogs for a peek into kitchens around the world.
* Some items listed above were gifted to me in accordance with my editorial policy. Nothing here is sponsored. All opinions are fully my own. Supercalafragalisticexpialadoshus. Beam me up Scotty.
Goodness JJ, what a post! So many amazing things to drool over! Love all the cookbooks, bravo to you, as the ones you’ve worked on all look fantastic. I have a bit of a herbal tea addition too, which means Pete’s always trying to empty out the pantry of my assorted boxes. Chocolate looks great, as do the chestnuts, but can’t say I’m completely convinced by the oven cleaners – don’t like the idea of a
“non-toxic” and “fume-free” service which makes the alarms go off and fills the house with a chemical smell!
Thanks Celia, so glad I finally joined up again! RJ doesn’t dare touch the tea provided it all stays on one shelf in the cupboard ;D Yeah, it was a bit of a let down after no smell during the cleaning…
Lizzy (Good Things) says
This should definitely be the ‘Cookbook Edition’ JJ. Lots and lots and lots and lots and …. lots! of good things in your kitchen xox
I was a bit shocked when I realised how many had piled up – probably best I didn’t include the food mags 😉
wow. just WOW!
and that is rare.
brenda hayes says
Fun to get a peek at the busy and interesting life you have created for yourself. Wow!!!
Joanne T Ferguson says
G’day! What a very busy kitchen indeed JJ, true!
Love your herbs windowsill view!
Cookbooks are always fun and can feel your excitement and passion for all things food too!
Tania @ The Cook's Pyjamas says
Incredible round up JJ. I love both the smoked paprika & the Herbies one. So many goodies in your kitchen. I get my oven cleaned at least once a year by a company, but I have never had the smoke alarm experience you had. If they didn’t clean the cleaners off properly then that may be your problem. Or you may want to try another company.
Yeah, I’m thinking it didn’t get cleaned off properly… If I ever need a recommendation I’ll let you know!
Deepa Gopinath says
My my, you have been a busy girl! Some of those giftbag contents look fabulous! Would love to see the Jackie M book sometime.
PS. Your tea cupboard does look a lot like mine:)
omgsh uve defintiely been busy! i love valli little’s cookbook nd hat samsung camera! omgsh ive been wanting that for ages!
Lisa the Gourmet Wog says
your post is EPIC!! Thanks for sharing! I adore your windowsill garden, there are few surprises left in life, it’s nice to get one every now and again!
I’d love to read ‘Eat for your Life’ sounds like a most wonderful and interesting read.
Thanks for reading ;D Yes, I think that may be one of the reasons I throw all the seeds in, just to see what will appear!
Holy smokes! Would that I were you with a kitchen and pantry stocked near to bursting with freebies! That’d help me in my job-hunting anxiety 😉
Can’t believe I didn’t know about Raaka chocolate when I was staying in Brooklyn in June. Darnit!!
Fiona @TIFFIN bite sized food adventures says
So just a few cookbooks then…. I love those cooling trays in your props section. At least you have a legitimate needs for props. I seem to collect and acquire but don’t actually have a real purpose for doing so. Oh well, it’s saving them from landfill! Thanks JJ
What a huge post – you have been busy. Thank you for the cookbook suggestions – I’ll look out for them in the library.
Kim | a little lunch says
What a synopsis! Terrific reading — loved your writing style, your sense of humor, and your disclaimer, too. 😉 Happy Birthday (whenever it was this quarter) and thanks for the comprehensive update!
Melissa Darr says
You are an amazingly talented women JJ! I’m super impressed with your creation of your zines and doing up a cookbook for Jackie M! What program do you use to create your zines in? I want to create a ebook (doesn’t everyone?? 🙂 ) And wondered what the best program was to use for graphics etc!
Jane @ Shady Baker says
JJ…my goodness, look at all your stuff & events! Cookbooks, tea, chocolate, oil, vegetables, cameras and food gadgets. I am amazed! I especially love your garage sale food prop finds. I heard about the Donna Hay sale on Twitter too, if only I were a little closer to Sydney. Great post x
I’m totally obsessed with roadside fruit stalls – I can’t drive by one without stopping. Drives my husband crazy! What a fabulous bunch of things you have had in your kitchen over the last few months! Thanks for sharing.