I’m delighted to join Celia’s monthly In My Kitchen blogaround. This is a monthly peek into the kitchens of food bloggers around the world, and all too often an opportunity to see what fascinating kitchen gadgets and cookbooks I ought to be putting onto my wishlist…
In my kitchen this month I have all sorts of goodies leftover from Christmas! I’ll start with this rather extraordinary beer, given to me by two of my lovely scientists at work.
(Note the beautiful seal on the bottle. Yellow lab tape – the sure sign a scientist was involved…)
It purports to be banana bread beer, and to have actual bananas in it. I have not yet dared to try it. I suspect it will actually be quite good – bananas are very sweet, and I usually find beer too bitter, so this might be the mix that makes beer drinkable. I suspect I’m going to be keeping this one aside for Eurovision consumption, however – it looks fascinating, but I just don’t drink enough for it to be worth opening the bottle when there’s nobody around to help me drink it!
In my kitchen this month I have a marrow!
Fear the marrow.
I got this at the farmers’ market. Apparently, the farmer went away for a few days and then came back and all his zucchini were the size of small mammals. This one weighed 2.5 kg. I couldn’t stop laughing at the stack of gigantic marrows (a steal at $3 each!), and had to buy one. I actually do have culinary uses for it – I’m thinking of cutting it into slices about two inches thick, scooping out the seeds to make a ring, and then stuffing the rings with something yummy. Stay tuned for the recipe…
In my kitchen this month I have new kitchen gadgets!
Andrew bought me the teeny tiny scales and the jar opener for Christmas. The scales go down to increments of 0.1 gram, which will be very useful for confectionery. As for the jar opener – well, I have a ganglion cyst on my wrist, and am waiting to go on a waiting list to have it operated on, but in the meantime, anything involving gripping or applying pressure with my hand is painful. Opening jars is a particular problem – I can’t grip and twist, especially anything that needs to be twisted hard – without a lot of pain. In fact, I simply can’t exert the pressure one needs to open a new jar even if I try to ignore the pain.
So Andrew got me this gadget so that I wouldn’t have to call plaintively for help every time I need to open a jar. So far I have used it twice. The first time, I couldn’t figure out how to fit the gadget around the lid, and had to call plaintively for help to work out how to use it. The second time, I fitted it around the lid OK, and then had to call plaintively for help because I couldn’t work out the grip…
You could say that my jar independence is a work in progress.
In my kitchen this month is this pretty, pretty biscuit mould from Gotha in Germany.
I fell in love with it when I was at the Barockfest back in August, and my penfriend bought it for me as a Christmas present. I love how medieval it looks, and that it is hand-carved. And yes – I’ve made biscuits from it! (That’s another recipe you’ll have to wait for…)
Such a beautiful, beautiful thing.
In my kitchen this month I have Teff flour!
This was a gift from one of the PhD students on my floor – not a Christmas gift, however. More of a ‘thanks for chopping all those onions’ gift. (My job is more varied than you might think) I’d mentioned wanting to experiment with gluten-free breadmaking, and that my book on the subject relies heavily on teff flour, and this package appeared on my desk a few days later. It’s currently unopened as the ganglion cyst on my wrist makes kneading things painful, but I suspect that with the current weather, I’ll soon get the itch to make bread, pain or no pain (ooh, I made a bilingual pun!). I’ll definitely enjoy giving this a try when I do.
In my kitchen, I have stewed plums!
This may not sound exciting to you, but stewed plums are the taste of my childhood. We had a huge blood plum tree when I was growing up in Melbourne in the 1980s, and every year, I’d watch as the flowers came out, the petals dropped, and the tiny, green rounds of plums appeared. I loved to watch them grow week by week until they changed colour to ripeness around Christmas. We would then harvest them, and my mother would stew enormous quantities of them, very plainly – just with a little sugar, I think – and freeze them in containers to eat through the year. Dessert in summer would be stewed plums with yoghurt – in winter, it would be plum crumble.
The year before we moved to Adelaide, the plum tree was blown down during a huge thunderstorm on New Year’s Eve, and we had our Last Harvest on New Year’s Day, picking up all the plums from the ground. I believe my mother still has photos of us all standing around holding tubs full of plums and looking mournful. Sentimental as this sounds, for me, losing the plum tree was the end of an era. So, even though Andrew hates plums, I still have to buy a kilo or two once a year at the farmers’ market and stew them up for use with yoghurt for breakfast. I’ve even frozen a few for winter…
In my kitchen, I have new spices!
My aunt J gave me a Gewürzhaus voucher for Christmas. I received it at 7pm on Boxing Day, at which point it started burning a hole in my pocket… By 2pm on the 27th, I had spent it. I am nothing if not efficient when it comes to Gewürzhaus vouchers. (This is another way of saying that I have no self-restraint when it comes to spice shops)
I’m quite excited by all these BBQ-themed spices, despite the fact that we don’t have a barbecue and are not big meat-eaters. I’ve been planning to learn how to do great things with tofu, and I feel that spice marinades are the place to start. Now all I have to do is overcome my conviction that I don’t like tofu – which is not true, by the way. I’ve enjoyed tofu on quite a number of occasions. I just don’t believe it, somehow….
In my kitchen, I have more weird beer!
Technically, Andrew has this weird beer, but it is so very weird I thought you deserved to see it anyway. In case you can’t read the writing (having been blinded by the pinkness of the bottle), this beer is Voodoo Doughnut Pretzel, Raspberry and Chocolate Ale. My brother seems to have decided that what Andrew needs in his life is really strange beer – last Christmas it was Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Banana Ale.
(We retaliated by buying my brother a Wine Cosy I had bought in Norway. It had little knitted moose on it. In retrospect, I think he deserved the green and purple one with yellow tufts…)
In my kitchen, there are cookbooks!!!
Of course there are. I have no shame. Actually, I do have some shame, but apparently not enough to prevent me from purchasing inordinate numbers of cookbooks at the drop of a hat. I seem to be moving more and more towards vegetarian cookbooks – I’m much more adventurous in my vegetable cookery than I am with meat. I’ve already made several of the tagines from the middle book; The Natural Cook is an absolute farmers’ market hero, where you come home and go, hmm, what do I have, and find a recipe (I especially love the way the author uses things like radish greens or cauliflower leaves as a matter of course). I shall have to review it properly at some point. The third one is brand new and I have no justification for it except that it had all these pretty, fresh-looking recipes, and I have no self-restraint. Actually, I think I just opened it at random and found the grilled haloumi with strawberry salsa and went “sold”.
In my kitchen, there are biscuits not made by me!
In fact, these are genuine German biscuits made by the genuine German mother of one of my genuine German postdocs… with a little long-distance help from me in sourcing ingredients for said German mother while she was visiting Australia. One of the interesting things about visiting a foreign country is checking out their supermarkets and discovering what is on the shelf and what isn’t. There are a lot of things that you can find in any German supermarket that you have to really hunt for in Australia (and vice versa of course). Cacao butter, apparently, is one of them.
Also, they are are lovely biscuits. And it’s awfully nice to be the one baked for, and not always the one baking…
In my kitchen, there is honey!
(Some of it scientifically harvested from scientific bees…)
The ginger honey and apricot honey I bought for myself via farmhouse direct – and gorgeous honeys they are, too. The big nameless jar was given to me by another of my scientists. Apparently, at one point, his lab looking at bees as a model for apoptosis – I think there was also discussion of whether one could breed stingless bees, but I could be wrong about that. Anyway, it turns out that they got their beehives installed and then someone thought of a better model, so the whole line of experimenting was abandoned – but they still had all these bees. So now there’s a whole group of bees up in Bundoora somewhere, living the high life on a research campus, and tended to by scientists who are also now hobbyist beekeepers. I think a lot of the bees have now gone home with the scientists, actually. And the scientists will give you honey if you ask them nicely. Or if you mention bees in their vicinity. Or sometimes, if you just happen to be sharing a lift with them…
(it’s good honey, though)
(I’ve just realised that about half of this post is about my scientists. I’m on holiday right now – clearly I’m missing them!)
(Not missing the part where I have to work, however. Not one bit.)