In My Kitchen, March 2014

I missed last month’s In My Kitchen deadline due to excessive grant applications at work, so it seems only right to start with the absolutely most exciting things ever installed in my kitchen, even though they were really installed in early February.

I refer, of course, to my wonderful, my marvellous, my life-saving CEILING FANS.  Behold, the glory!


They actually make my kitchen – and my whole house, actually, because we installed them pretty much everywhere – liveable in the hideous weather we’ve had over summer.  I love them to bits.  They are my precioussss.  They are a thing of beauty and a joy forever.  If I weren’t so tired right now, I would be writing poems in their honour.  Ah, ceiling fans, how I adore you…

Yes, I’m afraid that’s what the inside of my head looks like right now.  This is going to be a rather disjointed In My Kitchen post, I fear…

In my kitchen, we are celebrating Autumn with the arrival of fresh pistachios in the farmers’ markets.


I love their soft texture just out of the shell, and their intense colours. I even love the process of peeling them out of their pods and then prising open their shells… though I probably wouldn’t enjoy doing this anywhere near so much if I had to do that with every pistachio I ever ate.

Speaking of deliciously bright autumnal things, in my kitchen are these amazing apples from the farmers’ market last week.


Do I know what variety they are?  Alas, I do not.  But they are sweet and tart and the most glorious colour ever given to an apple.  I’m tempted to make them into toffee apples, because you wouldn’t even need the food colouring to make them that amazing pink-red colour.

In my kitchen right now are these beautiful yellow roses.


February and March are the seasons of insane grant-writing at work, and so I have spent much of the last few weeks working ridiculous hours in order to read and re-read 28 grants written by my lovely scientists.  The first fifteen or so are really fun, because it’s fascinating to learn what everyone is doing (also, some of the typos and grammatical errors are hysterical, and it’s not just the postdocs from overseas who make them, either), but by the time one gets to grant number 20, one is well and truly over it.  So I was incredibly touched when a group of them got together to bring me flowers in thanks.  And they are even boxed so that Mayhem (who is extremely fond of flowers, and tends to knock vases over in her enthusiasm) can’t destroy them so easily.

Speaking of gifts and roses, in my kitchen this month are some very exciting presents from my friend Rose.


For those who haven’t seen these before, you are looking at fondant moulds, as well as blue fondant and pearlescent dust.  I foresee a large number of cakes decorated with shiny blue buttons in my future… in fact, this is really sounding like the sort of thing that Cross Dressing Ken would go for, now I consider it…

And speaking of shiny blue things, in my kitchen this month are more blue foods than you can poke a stick at.


My work place holds an annual fundraiser for Ovarian Cancer Australia, and as their ribbon colour is teal, the format is always a fundraising ‘morning teal’, featuring more blue food than you can possibly imagine.  A very dear friend of mine has ovarian cancer, so I feel pretty strongly about this, and frankly, if someone were trying to design a good emotional outlet for a Catherine, a massive bake-off of unnaturally-coloured and lurid foods would probably be what they would come up with.  Never has so much blue curaçao been used to so much devastating effect!


In fact, due to post-grant exhaustion, I did not manage to bake as much or as successfully as I would have liked – I made yet another failed attempt at vegan marshmallows, and then moved on to raw blueberry tart (disappointingly purple), gluten-free and vegan cupcakes (choc mint, and blackberry with blue curaçao), before attempting some gluten- and egg-free orange and cardamom cookies, which turned out to be wafers rather than the shaped cookies I’d had in mind.  I cut them into circles and sandwiched them together with more blue curaçao icing, and they tasted fantastic, but they were not the aesthetic triumph I had hoped for.

And speaking of cakes, in my kitchen this month there are no longer these stunning little cakes from LuxBite in South Yarra.


I took an afternoon off after one of our internal deadlines at work to go and play at the cake shops of South Yarra.  It was very therapeutic.  Also, very sugar-fuelled.  Though perhaps my mistake was that I didn’t actually eat any sweets while in South Yarra – which meant that I kept buying more and more to take home… Incidentally, my (savoury) lunch at LuxBite was amazing and surprisingly good value – for $15, I got good sourdough toast, two 60°C eggs (which really are as incredible as I’d hoped), and three little lamb sausage balls with tomato chutney and avocado purée.  Absolutely delicious, and a perfect size for lunch.

In my kitchen this month is a grill pan!


I’ve wanted one of these for ages, though I suspect one only truly needs them if one wants to be posh.  It’s still fun to produce food with pretty grilled stripes on it, however.  Suddenly, it looks all restauranty!  And I suspect that if I’m going to be experimenting with Tofu this month, I will need all the visual appeal I can get…

In my kitchen are these stunning parfait glasses.


My mother-in-law is tidying up and throwing out a lot of things, and she offered us these glasses.  I’m very fond of desserts in a glass, and I love the way these look like soap bubbles – so fine and delicately coloured.  She was apologetic that there were only five and not six, but I’m secretly relieved.  I break things so very often that it’s actually kind of relaxing to know that the set is already incomplete.  When the next glass meets its inevitable fate, it won’t be me who destroyed the set…

In my kitchen are some delicious little Swiss chocolates.


More largesse from my grateful scientists – and isn’t it lovely having colleagues who travel overseas and bring back the *good* chocolate?  I wouldn’t have thought these would be my style, but they are really addictive!

In my kitchen is all the music I will be singing tomorrow!


Yes, there is a lot of it.  It’s going to be a huge singing day for me, with Wesley Choir in the morning, a recording session in the afternoon, and possibly Bach Choir after that, if we finish early.  The recording session is going to be really fascinating – my teacher has organised a group of her students into a choir to sing two songs out of a new song cycle, Maiden Voyage, about Australia and women’s history, by Lorraine Milne.  The entire song cycle is being recorded, with different women’s and girls choirs of different ages singing different sections of it.  I’m really looking forward to hearing the entire work when it’s done.

(and, a random bonus thing that makes me happy – the accompanist for our songs and several others in the cycle is my classroom music teacher from when I was in Grade 4 and 5.  He was one of my favourite teachers ever, and certainly the one who made me realise that singing was something I wanted to do and was good at.  It’s been so lovely to see him again!)

This post is part of Celia’s In My Kitchen blog series, possibly the best excuse for stickybeaking ever created in blog form.  Pop over to her site to see what other people have in their kitchens this month!


One year ago: Raspberry and Lavender Lemonade

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16 comments for “In My Kitchen, March 2014

  1. Jo
    March 8, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    The pistachios look wonderful!

    Also, I love my grill pan, and I don’t think it’s overly posh/ a frippery at all!

    • Catherine
      March 9, 2014 at 9:23 am

      I haven’t really played with mine much yet, so at present it’s really still all about the stripes… I will probably change my tune once I figure out what it’s really good for!

  2. March 9, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Cate, I’m sorry to hear about your friend, but what wonderful blue treats you’ve baked! LOVE the ceiling fans – I don’t think we’d survive without the one in our bedroom in the middle of summer. And those pistachios are amazing – no wonder they’re so widely used in various cuisines, just look at the colour of them!

    • Catherine
      March 9, 2014 at 11:09 pm

      Thanks, Celia! We’re keeping our fingers crossed. And yes, I’m enjoying the ceiling fans right now, in fact!

  3. March 9, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Oh, grant submissions. February and March are always such awful months! I wasn’t lead CI on anything this year and yet they still seemed awful! I hope you can recover now, and have fun playing with your fondant moulds and new grill pan – with the joy of cool air swirling around you 😉

    • Catherine
      March 9, 2014 at 11:10 pm

      Twenty-eight grants is too many. I have no idea how our Grants Office stays sane having to check through more than 100 of them… though I don’t think they are doing finicky proof-reading at the level I’m doing (which is why I’m doing it).

      And I shall!

  4. March 9, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    I just want to say tofiffee over and over. Surely that is reason enough to be eating them! All looks busy in your life and fun in your kitchen – I love your grill pan and the fondant moulds and gold dust. Will the blue fondant make it into the fundraiser morning tea? It feels like we should be over needing fans but this weather is suddenly a bit oppressive again and fans are great for getting the air moving – enjoy

    • Catherine
      March 9, 2014 at 11:11 pm

      Tofiffee fi fo fum, lots of chocolate here I come?

      The fondant arrived the afternoon after the morning tea, but I will have plenty of uses for it going forward. And yes, the fans are an absolute godsend right now!

  5. March 12, 2014 at 7:48 am

    Love your fondant moulds !! (Of course, we Americans would spell them ‘molds’!!) I’d love to own those!!

    • Catherine
      March 15, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      Thanks, Cecile! I went to a class about a year ago where we made these rococo cupcakes with gold buttons and ribbons and cameos, and I’ve been coveting button mo(u)lds ever since!

  6. Hayley
    March 12, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    I am deeply approving of all the cakes and sweets that are happening in this post.

    • Catherine
      March 15, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      All this blue food is excellent training for Eurovision, really…

  7. March 13, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Love those retro parfait glasses.

    • Catherine
      March 15, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      Hi Francesca – so do I! Though they do frighten me a bit with their elegance.

  8. March 14, 2014 at 4:54 am

    I found an enamel-coated cast iron grill pan at a thrift shop last year. When I remember to use it, it makes lovely stripes. I like it because burgers and other food don’t end up sitting in their own grease while cooking. I seem to have trouble remembering that I have it though.

    • Catherine
      March 15, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      I knew there was a non-aesthetic reason why I wanted one of these!

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