What was that resolution I made about participating in these blogging events more regularly? Well, I suppose every six months or so is regular… sort of…
Anyway! I got back from my exciting European trip at midnight between Tuesday and Wednesday, and I brought back all sorts of goodies with me. Better still, none of them were taken away from me as potential weaponry by Germany (I lost a bottle of chocolate sauce to German’s security screening last time), or as potential disease vectors by Australia’s Customs people. Incidentally, people in Norway apparently think their Customs control is pretty fierce. It seemed impolite to giggle incredulously at this after being waved through the ‘nothing to declare’ gate with nary a glance, so I shall simply confide to my Australian friends that my German penfriend took fruit on the plane from Germany to Norway and nobody minded. I simply couldn’t bring myself to do this, even when it was offered to me. One does not take fruit on planes. It just isn’t done.
The point is, of course, that the first thing that is in my kitchen this month is, of course, me.
And I am so, so glad to be back in my own kitchen again. My German penfriend very kindly let me take over her kitchen completely while I was staying with her, which was wonderful beyond belief after two weeks without one, but I’m still a bit traumatised about going to a beautiful, fascinating Farmers’ Market in Paris and not being able to buy more than a handful of fruit, tomatoes and quiche, because I had nowhere to cook or store anything…
And speaking of Farmers’ Markets, the second thing that is in my kitchen this month is my haul from the Bundoora Farmers’ Market. Is it not beautiful?
It’s quite a big haul this month, because Andrew has been living on the many, many casseroles, curries and stews I made and froze before I left, and not buying vegetables. Or, as it turns out, looking inside the vegetable crisper boxes. I shall spare you that particular photo. But in any case, this was the perfect excuse to buy lots and lots of delicious things to eat and cook with this week.
The third thing I wish to share with you this month – though not literally, because I like you – is Durian chocolate, or, to be precise, freeze-dried Durian coated in dark chocolate.
I bought this in Malaysia, as I have heard many enticing and fascinating things about Durian over the years and, mindful of rumours about Customs in Norway, I figured that freeze-dried and in chocolate was probably my best bet. Also, I figured that glaciers would demand chocolate.
It was… unique. Sort of like someone crossed a mango with an onion, freeze-dried it and coated it in chocolate. I may be the sort of person who perpetrates garlic fudge, but it turns out I draw the line at crunchy onion-mango chocolate. So, in fact, this Durian chocolate is not technically in my kitchen, but is instead in the kitchen of one of our lovely bed and breakfast hostesses, R, who also very kindly let me take over the kitchen for an evening. R is a lovely, lovely person, and it turns out that she actually liked the Durian chocolate. So I gave the rest of it to her. I’m glad someone appreciated it, anyway!
In my kitchen this month are… cookbooks! Cookbooks in foreign languages, no less!
Look, it’s not my fault, alright? Everyone knows that I have a cookbook habit. And yet, they take me into cookbooks and then encourage – nay, enable! – my cookbook buying. I feel embarrassed for them, truly I do.
Anyway, I must confess that very little persuasion was required to make me buy three cookbooks in France and then two more in Germany. I’m pretty excited about the first French one, which is all about using the entire vegetable – so there are recipes using carrots and others using carrot leaves, recipes using beetroots, leaves and stems, even recipes using pea pods. Very cool. The second French cookbook, which is all patisserie, is still in the mail, and the third one was sort of irresistible because there I was in Mont Saint Michel thinking about soup, and there was the soup book.
On the German cookbook side, I bought one that is effectively the German version of the Country Women’s Association cookbook, and another which is all about asparagus. Germans, it appears, are even more obsessed with asparagus than I am. Which I realise is hard to believe, but there you have it.
In my kitchen this month are… spices coated in chocolate!
This was one of those serendipitous moments while I was exploring Paris and trying to avoid hordes of tourist. It turns out that there is a chocolaterie and restaurant called Un Dimanche à Paris, and they create both sweet and savoury food with a chocolate theme. One of the things they do is coat whole, savoury spices in chocolate, for use in cooking. Honestly, though, my friend and I found that we could happily nibble on them without any cooking being required. I have, alas, lost the recipe sheet that came with them, but I’m still looking forward very much to playing with such enticing flavours as fennel in white chocolate, black pepper in dark chocolate, rosemary in white chocolate, coriander in milk chocolate and pink peppercorns in pink chocolate.
In my kitchen this month is… pasta shaped like the Eiffel Tower!
Hey, I can’t be sophisticated all the time, OK? And these really are a world of cute. And of tacky. I kind of saw them and then couldn’t stop giggling, at which point they had to come home with me. No other outcome was possible.
In my kitchen this month are… chocolates!
The last survivors of an epic chocolate buying journey that took me all over Europe. The chocolate macarons are from Ladurée via Versailles. I went to Versailles for the grounds and the gardens (it was a bicycle tour), but then made the mistake of entering the palace, which was absolutely packed with tourists. I hated it – and I couldn’t get out – and there was this pastry shop… The chocolate bar comes from Germany and is a present from my penfriend’s mother.
In my kitchen this month are… really cute cookie cutters!
From the baroque festival in Gotha, not that I’m boasting! OK, yes, I’m totally boasting. I especially love the little paw print one, that will, if I am looking at it correctly, provide me with a cut-out paw print on a biscuit.
In my kitchen this month, and also from Gotha, is… salt!
Salt of many kinds, in fact. The woman selling salt insisted on giving me an escalating taste test from her mildest to her strongest salts. In the end, I chose the black salt (good on pasta), the alpine salt (earthy, and so pretty and colourful – I am sure this would be great on foccacia) and the Viking salt (because Vikings! Also, because it is so strong that one grain can flavour a whole pot. Like a Viking! Or maybe not…). I politely eschewed the Murray River salt, because it seemed a little silly to go all the way to Germany in order to buy salt from just up near the border…
Finally, in my kitchen this month is … my spice shelf!
This has actually been around for a few months now, but in the spirit of celebrating having my kitchen back, I feel that my overflowing spice rack deserves a loving mention. With particular attention paid to my beautiful, beautiful nutmeg mill.
So, what’s happening in your kitchen this month? What’s new? What’s old but still exciting? What makes you happy?
This post is being submitted to Celia’s fantastic In My Kitchen monthly blog event. If you are someone else who likes snooping around in other people’s kitchens looking at their cool cookbooks, gadgets and foodstuffs I recommend this blogaround to your attention! Thanks as always for hosting, Celia!