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In My Kitchen… December 2014

Well here it is. The last IMK for 2014. A few weeks ago Celia from Fig Jam & Lime Cordial asked me ‘I just did the roundup of the November IMKs and missed you. When are you back?  I took a couple of months off from TIFFIN to travel in the USA so of course, I’m back with all kinds of goodies to show off to you. Gee I love the supermarkets in the US! They are so full of wonderfully wacky products and I spent many an hour wandering along and snapping photos to post to social media. Given the time of year we were visiting, there was a distinctly pumpkin theme. We had a special treat on the way home, travelling back in Business Class, so I was expecting to load up my extra luggage allowance with every product that money could buy. In the end though, my haul was modest. As I took a final wander down the aisles of Ralph’s Grocery in Los Angeles I started to think ‘Will you use that? Wouldn’t you enjoy making that at home from scratch? Isn’t one bag of that enough?’ After excessive sugar, fat and artificial flavourings and colourings in my diet for nearly two months, the last thing I wanted to do was bring back more. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of those new flavours, innovations and unique offerings and have a real ball when I visit the States but enough was enough. It seems that I have become a grown up. When did that happen?

In my December kitchen…

Bundt Pair

…is an old/new bundt tin, or pan as they call them in the States. I say old/new because I bought it in a thrift store in Billings, Montana so it is second-hand. But actually, it is new as it’s never been used. One indicator was the perfect surface but the real giveaway was the perfect layer of dust that covered it. I expect that someone bought this tin with grand plans of making a cake and somehow never got around to it. Either that or it was purchased for a rustic decoration on some kitchen wall. It is by no means the most heavy duty tin in the world but a check of the Cook’s Essential brand on the internet revealed it is a QVC product worth around $30. Not bad for $2.50 then! I hope that I can finally put the tin to good use and give it the workout it deserves.


In my kitchen…

Huckleberry goodies

…is an assortment of huckleberry products. It appears that huckleberries are a real thing and much loved by the mountainous regions of North-West America. They are unable to be cultivated and only grow wild. They’re related to the blueberry but whatever you do, don’t call a huckleberry a blueberry! I started to notice signs and products mentioning huckleberries as we drove through Northern Idaho towards the Grand Teton NP and then, it seemed they were everywhere. The coffee is a novelty item but is from one of the best coffee shops we visited on our 7 week holiday, Morning Glory Coffee & Tea in West Yellowstone. The chocolate bar is from a general mercantile, also in West Yellowstone and the book is from the bookshop in the Buffalo Bill Centre in Cody, Wyoming (now THAT is an amazing museum). The book is a delight with some history, little vignettes from times gone by, poetry and a few recipes. I will be writing more about huckleberries and our visit to a wonderful soda fountain for a huckleberry shake in a future post.


In my kitchen…

Metal Juicer

…is a citrus squeezer. Yes, I know you can now get these in Australia however this was from one of the many, many Walmarts we visited whilst touring and cost me less than $2. Happy days.


In my kitchen…

Doughnut Maker

…is a vintage doughnut maker. Anthony and I spent a lovely afternoon in Rapid City, South Dakota, wandering around antique and vintage shops and eating ice cream. We bought quite a few items and this doughnut maker was one of them. Made of some snazzy melamine and plastic (I’d love to say bakelite but I’d just be kidding myself) it works by filling the bucket and then depressing the knob, turning out a mini doughnut straight into the hot oil. Now I just need a doughnut recipe.


In my kitchen…


…is coffee in a variety of novelty flavours, which will go very nicely with those doughnuts. Now I needed to buy coffee like I needed a hole in the head. Just before we left Australia I scored a windfall of several kilos of ground coffee and coffee beans from a variety of events I attended such as the Merlo coffee cupping session. Still, I needed some whilst I was travelling around so I ended up with a few bags. The flavours are Sweater Weather – Peanut Butter Brittle, Stud Muffin – Pumpkin Spice and  Caramel Apple. Truth be told, a couple of these are for friends. I opened the Peanut Butter Brittle in NYC with very low expectations. Whilst it’s not premium quality coffee, it smells delicious and as I sit here writing this post, the scent from my cup on the desk already takes be back to NYC. Sense memory is a powerful thing is it not? I included my travel plunger cup by Smart Cafe (now Zyliss) in the photo. It is a coffee plunger that also serves as a cup. I bought it some years ago, initially for camping but now it goes everywhere with me. It is made of a very sturdy plastic, is well insulated and is virtually unbreakable. Perfect for travel. These days, if I’m in a hotel, I brew in the plunger and then pour it into a more elegant mug. I think this would be one of the things I would grab if the zombies were rounding the corner.


In my kitchen…

Knife Trio

…is this fantastic cake knife advertising Groepel’s Store in Marion, South Dakota. Those were the days huh? When stores gave away advertising merchandise that was useful. I know I will get a lot of use out of this knife and think it will be a talking point at many birthdays.


In my kitchen…

Grocery trio

…are groceries. Here are three very different items. Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix. Red Lobster is a mid priced seafood restaurant chain. I’ve never been to a Red Lobster but apparently they must include biscuits as part of their meals. Biscuits are in fact scones but are treated as a savoury item, typically served with Southern or soul food such as fried chicken and gravy. They are particularly popular at breakfast when they are served with a hideous white gravy. I’m sure these will turn out to be fairly standard but I thought, ‘What have I got to lose?’ Justin’s Maple Almond Butter is a nut butter (so really a paste) made of almonds and includes maple syrup. Sounds pretty delicious to me. La Costena Green Mexican Salsa is a favourite of mine. It has a tingle without setting your tongue on fire. Great with eggs.  I usually buy a small tin or ask others to bring a one home for me. This time I thought ‘Why not just but the BIG bottle?’ So I did. You can of course get La Costena in Australia however a small tin costs $3 or $4 whereas this whole bottle cost the same. This particular item was wrapped very well to make it through the many plane flights and vicious baggage handlers.


In my kitchen…

Cookery of the Prairie Homesteader

…is this lovely book, ‘Cookery of the Prairie Homesteader’. When I visited Yellowstone and the Wild West, I was hoping to buy a cookbook that also had some commentary about the area or the lifestyle. Whilst there were a number of cookbooks, I thought them dull and overpriced. This however, was exactly the type of book I was looking for and was found at the same thrift store as the bundt tin. The author Louise K Nickey was born at the turn of the 20th Century and this book tells the story of homesteading in Montana and living on the prairies until she was 16. Divided into the four seasons, it covers reminiscences and childhood recollections, lessons on economy and hardship and of course, recipes. It is very much in the vain of that other well known homesteader, Laura Ingalls Wilder (still a favourite read). I can find no information about Louise which is not surprising given she was born over 100 years ago and the book was published in 1976, pre-dating the internet by many decades. I am assuming she is no longer with us. I took a more detailed look at the book when I got home, I saw that it had been signed by the author. I found this thrilling and treasure this book even more.


In my kitchen…

Baking setBaking Pair

…is some new baking paraphernalia. The small wooden rolling pin is vintage, as is the heart shaped cookie cutter. For all of my biscuit cutters, I didn’t have a heart shaped one. Now I do. I also bought a set of mini loaf tin liners for less than a few dollars from Walmart. They were in the festive Halloween/Thanksgiving baking section because of course, in the US there is enough custom to have such a specifically themed section.


Speaking of cookie cutters… in my kitchen…
Cookie Cutters

…are three new cookie cutters. I have a large-ish collection, mostly from the USA. They make cheap and lightweight souvenirs. These three fairly much represent where we spent the bulk of our holiday, in the Wild West. The grizzly bear is from Yellowstone, WY, the Bison from Jackson Hole, WY and the boot from Victor, ID. One day, when I am very organised, I may take all of the cutters out to photograph for a future IMK. One day…


In my kitchen…

Free Ice Water cup

…is this plastic cup from Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota. If anyone has been within 100 miles of Wall, you will know about Wall Drug and its famous signs.

Wall Drug Sign, Sth Dakota

For everyone else, Wall Drug made its name and fortune in the 1930’s by offering free ice water to travellers. In the hot and dusty Depression years, this was quite a phenomenon. Wall Drug is now massive with hundreds of thousands if not millions of souvenirs and every manner of item you do not need, for sale. They now take up a whole block in Wall and still have free ice water. I’ll be writing a separate post about this crazy place. In the meanwhile, the cup is sitting in the kitchen, looking to be re-purposed. The reason the cup made it home in one piece is that it sat inside the hole in the bundt pan.


In my kitchen…

Fruit Salad

…is yet another fresh fruit salad. Though Anthony and I ate fairly modestly where we could, including packing a salad lunch on many days, there is nothing like home cooking. As I chose not to buy oranges imported from Australia, sometime there were limited fruit selections coming into Winter. I could not wait to come back and make up a huge bowl of fruit salad to top up. This one has apples, blueberries, nectarines, grapes, pineapple and the last of the Aussie oranges. We also had mangoes but I prefer to eat them standing over the sink, as is.

This is a sampler of some of the items I brought home with me. As I said, I didn’t bring as much home as I thought I would because in the end, I simply didn’t need it. Apart from the small Prairie Homesteader, I stayed true to my own committment and resisted a number of very attractive and modestly priced cookbooks. I love them but the truth is, I just don’t cook from them as often as I should. turning more and more to the internet and blogs these days. Best to save those shiny pennies for another holiday somewhere.

As it is a few days after Thanksgiving in the USA, I’d like to tell you that I am thankful for you reading to the end of this fairly long IMK post. Travel wanker that I am, it’s really just a boast about my holiday isn’t it? I am therefore also thankful that you’re prepared to let that boast through to the keeper. Most of all though, I am thankful to Celia. Patient, encouraging, funny and inventive Celia for thinking of the In My Kitchen concept and creating a wonderful community of bloggers. I’ve made some new internet friends both at home and abroad and that, is something to be thankful for.

56 comments… add one
  • Amanda (@lambsearshoney) December 2, 2014, 5:57 pm

    Nice haul there! I struggle with luggage limits and common sense every time I travel & my eyes are always bigger than my suitcase. Last trip I bought a kitchen clock and dragged it across Canada, into the US, back across Canada and finally home.

    • Fiona Ryan December 3, 2014, 4:14 pm

      Yes, there’s always the large and heavy item that you see on day one and then have to cart around the whole time. For me it was a cast iron corn bread pan. Still, we know we’ll do it again!

  • Joanne T Ferguson December 2, 2014, 5:58 pm

    G’day! Great post and lots of goodies Tiffin!
    Travel wanker of the most thoughtful, generous and caring kind! 🙂
    Cheers! Joanne Shared

    • Fiona Ryan December 3, 2014, 4:18 pm

      Hi Joanne – yes, lots and lots of goodies which is why I can share with those who’s tastes I’ve learned through IMK! cheers xx

  • Lizzy (Good Things) December 2, 2014, 6:01 pm

    Welcome back Ms Fiona, we sure have enjoyed your photos from the trip via social media! Love the round up of goodies, here… confused slightly about the cake pan at the top, is it one cake pan or two? Huckleberries sound delicious and I’m interested in the cookbook…. you have picked up some great gadgets there, too… the citrus press is really good… I used to sell them and have one myself. Well, I wouldn’t call you a travel wanker, I think you’re pretty awesome… keep saving those pennies lady…. and thanks for being my friend.

    • Fiona Ryan December 3, 2014, 4:21 pm

      Hi Liz – the cake pan is just two views of the same pan. Glad you enjoyed the photos – too bad there’s not more free wifi all over the place in Australia! Thanks for your very kind words Liz – we have to stick together don’t we? Next holiday is the biennial trek to Barossa : )

  • Padaek December 2, 2014, 6:32 pm

    Great post! You found some awesome items on your trip – thanks for sharing them. Lovely find with the Prairie Homesteader cookbook, and I really like the look of that plunger mug too. I can’t wait to go to the US – would be a wonderful place to travel, eat and shop. Best wishes!! 😀

    • Fiona Ryan December 4, 2014, 8:14 am

      Hi Padaek – thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. I have my travel plunger on my desk in Canberra as I write. I really can’t do without it. The US is a crazy, wonderful, challenging place. You’ll have a ball. cheers.

  • Shannan December 2, 2014, 7:50 pm

    Love it – all of it!!!

    • Fiona Ryan December 3, 2014, 8:00 am

      Thanks Shannan – some of it is of course still sitting on the dining room table…

  • Glenda December 2, 2014, 8:20 pm

    Hi Fiona, You have some great purchases there. I particularly like the second hand items. they are real gems.

    • Fiona Ryan December 4, 2014, 8:17 am

      Thanks Glenda. I love the secondhand items too. They’ll have another life and also serve as a practical souvenir.

  • Maree December 2, 2014, 8:50 pm

    Gee you really picked up some great things. Great to read of your adventures 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan December 4, 2014, 8:25 am

      Thanks Maree – always good to share with the IMK community. Looking forward to reading your post over the weekend.

  • Maureen | Orgasmic Chef December 2, 2014, 10:21 pm

    My son started working for Red Lobster when he was 16 as an oyster shucker. Then he realised the servers were getting 3 times what he was earning so he asked to be a server and they told him at 6’4″ and 220lbs he was too intimidating. He begged. They said yes. He earned more than anyone else. They let him work around football practice and games. He worked there through university and then went to work as a manager trainee. When he left he was a regional manager. I’ve eaten many biscuits. 🙂

    You have heaps of good stuff again! I always want stuff you have. 🙂 That donut plopper is cute.

    • Fiona Ryan December 4, 2014, 8:32 am

      Maureen – so glad you could add your story and tell us all a bit more about Red Lobster and your son’s tenacity! Donut Plopper is a great name. I’m stealing that one!

  • Mandy December 2, 2014, 11:14 pm

    So many wonderful goodies in your kitchen. I especially love your cake knife.,
    Have a super day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

    • Fiona Ryan December 4, 2014, 8:35 am

      Thanks Mandy. We have my niece’s graduation at our house in a few weeks so I’ll be trotting it out then. Cheers!

  • Michelle Owens December 3, 2014, 6:13 am

    Love the Sweater Weather packaging. M

    • Fiona Ryan December 3, 2014, 7:58 am

      I’ve taken Sweater Weather to Canberra so I have some coffee down there too as I’m going to get a plunger for work there.

  • Jan Rhoades December 3, 2014, 9:31 am

    Nice one Fiona. Just as well you are planning a new kitchen…you should have just about enough room for all your new goodies!

    • Fiona Ryan December 4, 2014, 1:59 pm

      Just about… you’ll have to stop taking things from your kitchen and giving them to me to put in my kitchen.

  • Jennifer from Milk and Honey December 3, 2014, 9:52 am

    That knife is just darling. I love things like these as souvenirs, so much better than a tacky snow dome 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan December 4, 2014, 2:03 pm

      Funnily enough, 10 years ago in the US it was all about the snow domes. Times (and I) have moved on!

  • Elizabeth December 3, 2014, 1:59 pm

    So many things in you kitchen this month… but I have to say that the cake knife is my favourite, so beautiful and practical. It will indeed be a fantastic talking point. the cooking book and the vintage bakery items are so quaint! I am a fan of pre love kitchen items 🙂 thanks so much for sharing this month! Liz x

    • Fiona Ryan December 4, 2014, 2:06 pm

      Hi Liz – the knife is proving very popular in the comments. First use will be at my niece’s graduation in a few weeks. Thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment. xx

  • Heather December 3, 2014, 4:01 pm

    Donuts please!

    • Fiona Ryan December 4, 2014, 2:07 pm

      And they’re only small so a few won’t hurt…

  • Vicki @ boiledeggsandsoldiers.com December 3, 2014, 7:04 pm

    Wow that’s quite a stash you have there! I love the look of the Peanut Butter Brittle Sweater Weather coffee! I’m intrigued to know what a huckleberry actually tastes like. Great post

    • Fiona Ryan December 4, 2014, 2:12 pm

      Hi Vicki – huckleberries are actually a little bit tart. It may have just been the ones I tasted. They do look like blueberries (just don’t tell anyone) but are more purple. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment. I love comments!

  • Sandra December 3, 2014, 9:14 pm

    Supermarkets are my favourite place to visit when visiting OS. I think they say more about the culture than any museum. Great preloved finds too

    • Fiona Ryan December 4, 2014, 2:16 pm

      They are fascinating aren’t they Sandra? And if you head somewhere where the script is in anything other than English, you have the added bonus of trying to puzzle over the content. Thanks for stopping by.

  • The Life of Clare December 4, 2014, 7:19 am

    What a wonderful IMK post! It was a great way to share about your trip. I love your bundt tin, and the doughnut maker!

    • Fiona Ryan December 4, 2014, 2:19 pm

      Thanks Clare. I can’t believe I’ve been back nearly a month! Maureen from Orgasmic Chef has named it the Donut Plopper. So apt!

  • Mel @ The cook's notebook December 4, 2014, 11:41 am

    so many goodies!! Looks like you had a fabulous trip. Love the knife and the cookbooks.

    • Fiona Ryan December 4, 2014, 2:20 pm

      Thanks Mel. Can’t wait to try something out the Prairie Homesteader. First catch your squirrel…

  • Steve December 4, 2014, 8:15 pm

    Ahh, Wall Drug. we spent a lazy few hours there on a frozen December day in 2009, on the drive to Sioux Falls. As for Rapid City, Mr Tiffin would have died when we were there. -1 Fahrenheit. Travel wankers of the world unite!

    • Fiona Ryan December 5, 2014, 8:35 am

      Ha ha – as soon as we moseyed into Wall I thought ‘I bet Steve’s been here’. I’ve written a post on it so you’ll be able to take a trip down memory lane soon.

  • Celia December 5, 2014, 1:08 pm

    Fi, you are a treasure, you know that, don’t you.. 🙂 What a gorgeous post you mad woman, I LOVE everything you’ve come back with, particularly the vintage donut maker. Can’t wait to see what you make with that! And really, huckleberries aren’t blueberries? But they look just like them! Oh, have to mention – how cool is that bread knife!! Thanks for taking us on your travels with you and all the very best for a glorious Christmas month! xxx

    • Fiona Ryan December 6, 2014, 10:56 am

      Seems I might be making some type of blueberry (close friend of the huckleberry don’t you know?) doughnut in the near future. Thanks for your wishes Celia.

  • Gretchen December 6, 2014, 7:38 am

    It is amazing how much stuff American supermarkets have, and I’m an American! Every time I go to a larger store there is always something new I see, rarely ever anything a person needs. It’s fun to see what you brought back. As for the huckleberries, that is one of my favorite parts about the Northwest! I eat all things huckleberry out there, milkshakes, yogurt, ice cream, pie… Then I being home what I can, huckleberry honey, syrup and jam are favorites.

    • Fiona Ryan December 6, 2014, 10:59 am

      Hi Gretchen – glad I could bring back some memories. I wished I’d brought back some huckleberry syrup to share around as everyone is keen to taste and try them. Thanks for stopping by and talking the time to leave a comment.

  • Ardysez.com December 6, 2014, 7:39 am

    My husband would have a coronary if I brought back that many food items from our travels!! In fact, I bring back zero food items these days and was very interested in what captured your fancy, having just come back from the US ourselves. We end up chasing the flavours of our childhood there, but do occasionally find something new to try. I’m glad someone else writes about their travels, I don’t feel quite so ‘wanky’ now! 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan December 11, 2014, 3:14 pm

      That was a very modest haul. My husband is an enabler and was encouraging me to fill up the entire suitcase. I did bring back quite a lot of candy but that was mainly for friends and family. We should start a ‘Travel Tragics’ support group!

  • Kari @ bite-sized thoughts December 7, 2014, 12:11 am

    Oh, you have some brilliant things! I love the old fashioned doughnut maker and your prairie cookbook in particular 🙂 I hope you had a good trip.

    • Fiona Ryan December 11, 2014, 3:17 pm

      Hi Kari – yes, it was a great holiday. It seems like so long ago. I’m looking forward to reading my Prairie Cookbook over the Christmas break. cheers!

  • Tania @My Kitchen Stories December 7, 2014, 6:36 pm

    Seems like you brought back some fantastically good stuff. love the cooking things especially the doughnut maker. My Mum used to have one and I dont know what ever happened to it. Have a great christmas Fiona. I followed your social media trip and interesting posts. What a great holiday. thanks for visiting me over the years too and all of your work with EDB14!

    • Fiona Ryan December 11, 2014, 3:19 pm

      Hi Tania – yes, what did happen to that doughnut maker? Did it secretly make its way to Rapid City? Thanks for your kind comments. EDB14 – that seems so long ago. Let’s hope there’s one next year so I can go along and enjoy it!

  • Francesca December 9, 2014, 2:16 pm

    Hi Fiona, you certainly picked up some great treasure in your travels. Love that vintage rolling pin and heart shaped cookie cutter. Retro and full of patina of times past.

    • Fiona Ryan December 11, 2014, 3:21 pm

      I’m sure when I die they’ll be saying, ‘how many rolling pins can one woman have?’. Thanks Francesca : )

  • Nancy | Plus Ate Six December 10, 2014, 10:26 am

    I bet that beautiful rolling pin could tell a few stories about the kitchens it has been in. What a massive haul you brought back with you – and yet you say it wasn’t!

    • Fiona Ryan December 11, 2014, 3:23 pm

      I was just saying Nancy that my husband was encouraging me to use the whole 90kg in luggage allowance. I would have loved to but where would I have put it all? (on my hips I expect…) Thanks for swinging by.

  • sherry from sherryspickings December 12, 2014, 3:13 pm

    what a swag of fabulous things. i love the vintage rolling pin and the cake knife and the cookbook. and on it goes! years ago when we were living in philadelphia for a while we used to goggle at the stuff in those huge american grocery stores. truly mindboggling. what a great holiday you must have had.

    • Fiona Ryan December 13, 2014, 12:36 pm

      It was quite a relaxing holiday and we saw many great sights but what a challenge the food can be! I hope to use the knife at my nieces’s graduation next week. cheers.

  • Miss Food Fairy December 13, 2014, 7:11 pm

    WOW! Lots of amazing goodies brought back from the US! Sounds like you had a wonderful time too. Glad to see you back at IMK Fiona, we missed you. Have a lovely Chrissy & New Year, see you next month at IMK x

    • Fiona Ryan December 13, 2014, 8:25 pm

      Thanks so much. All rested and ready to go with plenty of posts queued. Thanks for your Food Fairy Wishes.

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