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In My Kitchen… October 2013

In my October kitchen is…

…the first shallot I have ever grown. Actually, it’s a spring onion or eschallot but in Australia, we call them shallots.  Confusingly, we call real shallots, shallots too! I picked up a couple of seedlings at Crop Swap earlier in the year and planted them in amongst the herbs. It was quite big so I used some of it in a salad and the rest in a stir fry. There are more that are ready to pick.

In my kitchen…

…are gentian and burdock root. I bought them online from the Melbourne Food Depot as I’m going to have a go at making my own bitters.  Anne from ‘Life in Mud Splattered Boots‘ mentioned that she made her own bitters in a previous IMK post so I decided I had to do this too. You’ll be able to read about my bitters making exploits in a future post.

In my kitchen….

was a bottle of Strawberry & Rosemary Shrub. In the September edition of IMK, I talked about macerating the fruit in vinegar in preparation.  I’ve now made the Shrub and you can read more about it here. It’s tangy yet sweet and perfect with sparkling water for a simple Summer pick me up. It also doubles as a complex sugar syrup for cocktails. I did have a full bottle but I had a party last weekend and it went down wonderfully well with vodka and soda so now there is none! I’m looking forward to when the stone fruit comes into it’s own in a few months time so I can try another flavour.

In my kitchen…

…is a jar of Strawberry & Tomato Chutney. Strange combination I know but what else do you do with the left over strawberries that were macerating for a Shrub? I decided to make a quick chutney using the vinegar soaked strawberries, some halved cherry tomatoes, chopped onion, vinegar, sugar and a pinch of this and that from the Indian spice cupboard.  No recipe I’m afraid – I make chutney so often I do it by eye and taste.  It made just over a jar so I dropped the remainder onto the tops of the vege muffins I was baking at the time. Waste not, want not.

In my kitchen…

…are eggplants! Some months ago I wrote about how I planted seeds for an heirloom variety of eggplant called Black Beauty.  I tended the seedlings but over time, only one small plant remained. I planted it in a nice sunny spot in out front yard and waited hopefully. Soon enough the plant was flowering but the flowers would not set and kept dropping off. I researched and researched. More water? Less water? More fertiliser? Hand pollinate? No matter what I tried, the bush grew bigger, the flowers proliferated and then dropped off the bush one by one. I kept the bush, looked at it occasionally when I was taming the triffid but really paid it no attention. A few weeks back my Mum came over for dinner and pointed out that I had an eggplant growing on the bush. I thought she was joking but went screaming out to take a look. Not one but four eggplants!  A few days later, I looked again and could see that four had turned to six with more swollen calyxes signifying yet more Black Beauties on the way.  I’m expecting an eggplant avalanche but happily, we love eggplant and I’ve written about it often. Lots more recipes to try over the coming summer. These went into a vege bake I made for some vegetarian guests at a party I had on the long weekend.

In my kitchen…

…are two bags of black beans from Mick’s Nuts.  After baking so many batches of Black Bean Brownies, my supply ran out so my friend Sam picked up a couple of bags for me.  She lives just around the corner from Mick’s Nuts, a legendary dry goods shop in West End. The shop’s been going since 1975, run by Greek immigrant Mick and you can buy all sorts of nuts, pulses, dried fruit, olives and all the other delicious things that add kilos to your waistline. I’ve cooked up one batch already and frozen them in zip lock bags. They can be tumbled directly into soups, salads and casseroles where they’ll defrost rapidly. So handy.

In My Kitchen is coordinated on a monthly basis by chocolate maker extraordinaire, Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. It’s an opportunity for bloggers to talk about what’s happening in their kitchen and their lives and maybe include a few things that they haven’t had time to blog about. If you visit Celia’s blog, you can read about other In My Kitchen enthusiasts.

24 comments… add one
  • mickeydownunder October 15, 2013, 7:47 pm

    G'day Fiona and congrats for completing this month's IMK too!
    Strawberry and Tomato Chutney sounds very interesting and your Black Bean Brownies would love to try too!
    Cheers! Joanne

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! October 16, 2013, 8:59 am

      In the end, it pretty much tasttes just like any other fruit chutney. It seemed such a waste not to use the fruit. The brownies are easy peasy and a firm fave as they're fairly low in fat and sugar too.

  • Jan Rhoades October 16, 2013, 7:14 am

    How rewarding to be able to finally harvest some egg plant. Well done! Have I ever mentioned being vigilant for fruit fly??? 🙂

  • Kim | a little lunch October 16, 2013, 9:02 am

    Fiona, I love your "waste not, want not" philosophy (here, too) and also your tip on cooking up and freezing black beans. Just made a black bean, chick pea, roasted red pepper, avocado, etc. salad last weekend… "Homemade" black beans would've bumped up the flavor three notches! (Next time…) I love IMK — there's so much to learn from those so willing to share

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! November 2, 2013, 9:34 am

      And thanks for your wonderful feedback! I confess to freezing everything – the only thing I don't freeze is eggs as I don't think they really reconstitute that well, despite what Nigella says. Yes, I'll add green onions to the list and I forgot 'scallions' too.

  • Mel Kettle October 16, 2013, 9:51 am

    Yum! I love black beans too. Mushrooms don't freeze particularly well either. Nor does lettuce. But egg whites freeze very well!

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! November 2, 2013, 9:34 am

      You're right, the whites do freeze fine. It's the yolks that aren't so great. Yes, I know you like black beans too. They go well with hot sauce huh?

  • celia October 17, 2013, 12:10 pm

    Hooray for eggplants! We haven't had a good crop for a couple of years, but when they grow, they're wonderful! And thanks for the headsup on where to find burdock – I keep looking for it at the markets, but I never see it. Your shrub looks gorgeous and we use a lot of black beans as well. Thank you for the kind compliment! 🙂

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! October 19, 2013, 8:54 am

      Hooray indeed – I just popped out the back and saw a few of the Lebanese eggplants have started to flower so looking forward to those too. It's a pity the Shrub is all gone but I'm hoping to grab a bargain at the markets tomorrow and make up another batch. Thanks for hosting.

  • Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things October 17, 2013, 12:35 pm

    Fiona, so many goodies in your kitchen… bitters… I will be watching with great interest!

  • thecompletecookbook October 18, 2013, 6:03 pm

    Oh wow, what fabulous goodies you have in your kitchen! I love the idea of Strawberry & Tomato Chutney – it's always nice to hear about something new.
    🙂 Mandy

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! October 19, 2013, 8:55 am

      Really, I think the best use of strawberries is straight off the bush or out of the punnet and into your mouth but it worked out quite well if I do say so myself.

  • Andrea Mynard October 18, 2013, 9:31 pm

    What a fabulous eclectic mix of exciting, exotic and homely goodies you have in your kitchen! Those shallots look more like our leeks. Love the sound of making bitters and no wonder the cocktails went down so well.

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! October 19, 2013, 8:57 am

      The shallots are biggies but I wish they were leeks – at around $4 each here I'd be on to a gold mine! Yes, the bitters will definitley be an experiment. Thanks for visiting.

  • heidiannie October 19, 2013, 12:28 am

    I call those green onions or scallions- and use them in Tex-Mex cooking mostly.
    Your eggplants are lovely- my niece grew a thin and long Japanese eggplant this year that I am enjoying making into the highlight of some pasta dishes.
    I am looking forward to your bitters adventure, as well!

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! October 19, 2013, 8:58 am

      Hi – I was just telling Celia that the first of the Japanese/Lebanese eggplants are starting to flower so I look forward to them too. I have a great recipe for stuffed slipper eggplants that I'd like to try.

  • Kari October 19, 2013, 4:50 pm

    Strawberry and tomato chutney sounds great! And congratulations on your shallot / spring onion – very impressive 🙂

  • Pat Machin October 22, 2013, 12:59 am

    I see Heidiannie has given your shallots the American name, over here they are known as spring onions mostly, though my Mother called them yard onions, I always thought that was because she grew them in her yard. Not so, apparently.

    I like the idea of your shrub. I've seen it for sale over here and there is even a folk group in Cornwall called 'Rum and Shrub'..

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! October 23, 2013, 4:34 pm

      Yes, 'Rum & Shrub' (the band) came up early in the search engine. I laughed at your comment about yard onions – there'd be a story lost in the mists of time but that's how new names and traditions get started and stick. Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts.

  • Jasmin BarkerMitchell October 22, 2013, 5:33 pm

    I'm intrigued by these 'shrubs' and how fruit soaked in vinegar turns into something that tastes good with vodka and soda! I'll have to add it to my list of things to try!

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! October 23, 2013, 4:32 pm

      It's all gone now but I have a Rhubarb & Orange one steeping. It's the tanginess of the vinegar which makes it so nice. Thanks for stopping by.

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