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In My Kitchen… January 2015

Plop! 2015 has landed with a big fat splat. I had a great break over Christmas, with the requisite eating and drinking as well as getting quite a few posts under my belt for the year to come. I envisage a good deal more travel with work which means I need to be super organised for the year ahead. Many people might just park their blog but for me, the writing and structure is an escape from my day to day job. Speaking of travel, I am hoping to do more travel posts this year as I can queue them up for when I’m away from home.Once again, Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial has dobbed herself in to host In My Kitchen for another year. There are just so many people joining in from all over the world that she may have to outsource work to Small Man and Big Boy to keep the list up to date! Please take the time to visit a couple of the other blogs and read what’s happening in their kitchens too.

In my January kitchen, it’s all about small pleasures….

Apricot Pair

…such as freebie apricots. A few days before the office shut down for Christmas, this pile of lovely little blushing apricots made an appearance in the tea room. By the end of the day, they hadn’t moved so rather than take just one or two, I took the whole lot. Nothing better than a work freebie! Far better for me to re-house them than for them to slowly spoil at work. Initial thoughts were some type of Summer tart but the apricots were particularly small and perfect so I decided that I’d preserve them in a brandy syrup. It created two medium sized jars. One was gifted at Christmas, the other is in the cupboard with an assortment of pickles and chutneys, waiting for an excuse to be opened. Perhaps it may head to the Barossa Valley with us in April to make a quick and simple dessert with ice cream for the gang one evening.


In my kitchen is the small pleasure of…

Worcester Sauce

…waiting for this home made Worcestershire sauce to finish brewing so I can strain and bottle it. I used the recipe of fellow IMKer Sherry, from Sherry’s Pickings. Being the store cupboard tragic that I am, I had all of the ingredients to hand with the exception of molasses. I thought about ad-libbing with golden syrup but decided I better stick to the recipe, at least the first time round. Sherry has made a spicier Wow-Wow version but mine has less chilli. I am waiting… waiting… shaking… shaking… Just a few more days to go. The small pleasure of suspense is delicious so let’s hope the sauce is too.


In my kitchen is the small pleasure of…


…gifted home grown produce. These came from my brother’s girlfriend’s dad, who spent Christmas Day with us. Beans, capsicum and a large cucumber. Anita’s dad, Manuel, is a keen gardener and brought vegetables for our family as well as his own extended family whom he was visiting later that day. It’s always a treat to have food that has been grown by someone who knows what they are doing!


In my kitchen is the small pleasure of…


…working out what to do with this huge box of HUGE onions. These onions were donated to friends as part of a sausage sizzle fundraiser for the Variety Bash. On the day the sun was hot and the queues were long so the onions were very quickly sidelined. When they were offered to me, of course I said yes but didn’t realise at the time just how many onions there were. But, if you’ve read this far, you know I love a freebie. This will be the third Bash for Sam and Kirsty. They’re addicted! If you’re interested in seeing my mates dressed as Penelope Pitstop, take a look at their Facebook page.  I encourage you to donate some money to their activities, by visiting their fundraising page here. All money raised goes directly to Variety who do wonderful work to empower children who are sick, disadvantaged and in need. These are destined to be made into caramelised onion relish and the rest sliced and frozen for later use. I sliced 20 onions on the mandolin the other day – talk about tears before lunch time. Actually, peeling them generated the tears rather than the slicing.


Finally, in my kitchen is the small and fragrant pleasure of…

IMK Roses 1

IMK Roses 2

… masses of roses. The roses are the only ornamentals we have in our garden (other than native bottlebrush) and they just go and go in our temperate climate. Occasionally, if they are lucky, they will get a handful of rose food or worm tea from me and I always make sure I deadhead. Other than that, they are on their own but they seem to thrive. Mr Tiffin went a little crazy with the rose food so they have all burst into flower at the same time, which just happens to be the week between Christmas and New Year, when we are home to enjoy them. There are at least half a dozen a day. My favourite is called ‘tea rose hybrid’ which gives us much pleasure as not only is it highly perfumed but no two roses from the bush are ever the same. Some are cream with a faint edge of pink whilst others are almost fuchsia with a splash of cream. Some are big, some are small. It’s a lucky dip and when there are a group of them in a vase, they often look like they come from different plants. The ones at the top are tea roses and on this occasion, there is no cream at all, with the exception of one rebel petal.

And so begins another wonderful year on TIFFIN and in my kitchen. This year we will be having our kitchen renovated so it will be interesting to see what form my IMK posts will take later in the year.  Are you following me on social media? I’d love you to join me.

62 comments… add one
  • Lizzy (Good Things) January 2, 2015, 6:50 pm

    Lovely post, Fiona, and happy new year! Oh how I used to love it when people left goodies in the tea room at work! Lovely haul in your kitchen… thanks for the peek and also thanks for the reminder to one and all to take the time to pop in and visit the other blogs too.

    • Fiona Ryan January 3, 2015, 10:27 pm

      Thanks Liz. I saw that you had lots of chillis in your own kitchen which is something that also comes in on a regular basis. Thanks for being a regular reader.

  • Elizabeth January 2, 2015, 8:13 pm

    Happy New Year!!! Those roses are stunning! I bet they smell amazing! I know how you feel about the sauce, I can’t wait for my home made vanilla essence to finish so I can use it! Thanks for sharing, I look forward to all those wonderful travel posts this year 🙂 Liz xx

    • Fiona Ryan January 3, 2015, 10:29 pm

      Hi Liz – yes, they smell divine and I just picked another 5 today. They are nearly all done for now but that’s OK as I’m back at work on Monday. There are a few fun travel posts all set to fly : )

  • Mandy January 2, 2015, 10:04 pm

    Happy New Year!
    🙂 Mandy xo

  • Glenda January 2, 2015, 11:51 pm

    Hi Fiona. I would be pickling those onion. There is nothing better. .

    • Fiona Ryan January 3, 2015, 10:32 pm

      Actually, those onions are gigantic Glenda. I spoke to my Mum today and she thought they were pickling onions also. Nope – humongus! I’ve made 5 jars of onion relish, frozen a few bags of sliced and made some caramelised onions for a tart. Next week, I start gifting!

  • Tania @My Kitchen Stories January 3, 2015, 9:26 am

    Hi Fiona….Happy New Year. You have so many interesting things. What are you planning to use your Worchestershire sauce for?
    It’s a great idea to give your friends a hand with their fundraising by letting people know about it.. There aren’t so many people that give up their time to raise money for others. Thanks for your constant support and wonderful happy personality. xx

    • Fiona Ryan January 3, 2015, 10:34 pm

      Truth be told, I really don’t know how I’ll use the sauce but I do like to sneak a bit into a Bloody Mary so I think my sauce will perk it up. Thanks for your very supportive comments Tania. How lovely. Mwah! xx

  • Gretchen January 3, 2015, 10:15 am

    Gorgeous roses! What a wonderful haul of various freebies. I think I would have to pickle some of those onions. Happy New Year!

    • Fiona Ryan January 3, 2015, 10:40 pm

      Hi Gretchen. The roses are lovely. I just collected another 5 today but they are nearly done now. It’s too humid for them this year. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Jan Rhoades January 3, 2015, 10:21 am

    Huge rose envy happening at Larwood Street

  • Maureen | Orgasmic Chef January 3, 2015, 10:42 am

    Happy New Year, Fiona and I’m glad to hear that even though you’ll be busy, you’ll keep on blogging. I look forward to your travel posts and all the things you can do with freebie food.

    • Fiona Ryan January 3, 2015, 10:37 pm

      Thanks Maureen. I don’t think there’ll be too much freebie food as I won’t be in the tea room to collect it!

  • Maree January 3, 2015, 3:14 pm

    I was about suggest the caramelised onions and freezing them sliced but you are already on top of that! I love those placemat thingies and boxes under the rose vase. I am so jealous of all the apricots I’m seeing here this month. Wish we could grow them successfully. Cheers.

    • Fiona Ryan January 3, 2015, 10:45 pm

      Hi Maree – those placemats and coasters are as old as the hills (nearly). We bought them in Bali on our honeymoon 17 years ago! They were exotic at the time but now you can get them just about anywhere. We can’t grow stonefruit in Brisbane either but have decent fruit shipped up from down south. I always have berry envy because let me tell you, any shipped to Qld are ridiculously expensive. Thanks for sharing fruit envy with me.

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime January 3, 2015, 3:21 pm

    I love your tea roses and I would pickle the onions if they were in my kitchen 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan January 3, 2015, 10:38 pm

      The onions are way too big Tandy. They are as big as my fist. As I was just telling Glenda from Passiontree Garden, I have made a few things, will make a few things more and then start putting them on the freebie table at work.

  • Jean | DelightfulRepast.com January 3, 2015, 11:32 pm

    Fiona, I so loved this post! Glad I got to “meet” you through the IMK! When I first saw the photo of all those onions, I thought of caramelised onions; and so did YOU! A few years ago I found a solution to the onion-crying: onion goggles (you can read about them on my 10 January 2013 onion soup post). I can’t wait to read about your homemade Worcestershire sauce.

    • Fiona Ryan January 4, 2015, 6:05 pm

      Hi Jean – yes, after I had peeled and cried my way through the bunch, my husband came home and said ‘Why didn’t you use the saftery goggles?’. Next time (because with this many, there will be!). I will bookmark your soup for the cooler months. Thanks for visiting and hope to see you back. Welcome to IMK.

  • Anne January 4, 2015, 1:19 am

    Free apricots. Wow! They look delicious. I have a bagful of onions that someone gave me that so far I’ve just left in a corner to dip into when I need them. Now feeling guilty that I haven’t been more productive.

    • Fiona Ryan January 4, 2015, 5:40 pm

      Oh don’t feel guilty Anne – after some sliced onions in the feezer, some relisha nd a tart, I’m ready to start gifting at work tomorrow! If it was winter I may do more. Stress may.

  • Kari @ bite-sized thoughts January 4, 2015, 1:39 am

    Freeby apricots! Divine – apricots have always been my favourite fruit, or at least one of my favourites 🙂 As for the onions, that really is an impressive box. Chutney, perhaps?! Or onion soup…

    • Fiona Ryan January 4, 2015, 5:42 pm

      The apricots were too cute. Actaully not one of my fave stonefruit but I’m sure in a spiced brandy syrup, I’m sure I’ll cope. Hope the Northern Hemisphere and winter are treating you OK Kari.

  • Misky January 4, 2015, 3:50 am

    I can’t wait for spring and summer so I can enjoy fresh veg from the garden again!

    • Fiona Ryan January 4, 2015, 6:01 pm

      Yes, there does seem to be an awful lof of veg in this month’s IMKs. I must say that I am always envious of you Northeners when it comes to summer berries when you do your IMKs mid year. Cheers Misky and thanks for taking the time to comment. Hope to see you bacak again.

  • Liz January 4, 2015, 10:33 am

    What beautiful apricots! I bet they are yummy in brandy.

    Onion jam? Carmelized onions in the freezer? Onion soubise?

    • Fiona Ryan January 4, 2015, 6:00 pm

      I’ve made some caramelised onions and a tart. I will caramelise some more. If it was cooler, I would do a soup but it’s stinking hot in Brisbane. Thanks for visiting and I hope to see you again. (and sorry for sending you an email and calling you Kirsty!)

  • sherry from sherryspickings January 4, 2015, 11:43 am

    lovely things in your kitchen fiona. those roses are so pretty. have you used up the onions? you could have caramelised onions and onion jam coming out of your ears:) thanks for the mention re the Worcester. I really like it and amazingly the chillies didn’t make it too hot at all. have a great 2015.

    • Fiona Ryan January 4, 2015, 5:46 pm

      Hi Sherry – I stuck my finger in the sauce and it tastes great. I’m going to decant tonight whilst I’m watching The Great British Bake Off. Still plenty of onions…

  • Sarah @ Chantille Fleur January 4, 2015, 1:38 pm

    Those roses are stunning!
    Home grown or made produce would have to be the best gift to receive, I reckon.
    Thanks so much for stopping by by blog, I really enjoyed reading your IMK tour!

    Sarah x

    • Fiona Ryan January 4, 2015, 5:48 pm

      I picked one more this evening but that’s the end of them for now. I think I got something like 25 roses from 2 bushes in a week! I’m always happy to read what’s going on in the IMK community. Thanks for taking time to comment.

  • Kirsty January 4, 2015, 4:06 pm

    Hi there Fiona. Gorgeous looking apricots, I’m glad you rescued them. My hubby loves fresh apricots and has had his fill over the past couple of weeks. Me, I like them dried, or in jam form. Have a great January, cheers Kirsty xx

    • Fiona Ryan January 4, 2015, 5:56 pm

      Hi Kirsty – yes I prefer my apricots dried too. I suspect it’s because the apricots of today taste nothing like the apricots of our childhood. Thanks for visiting and hope to see you back. xx

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella January 4, 2015, 8:07 pm

    What a serendipitous treat to be offered free produce! I just made an apricot jam and it was quite luscious indeed. The rest of your kitchen offerings sound lovely, especially the fragrant roses!

    • Fiona Ryan January 6, 2015, 6:11 pm

      I just picked the last of the roses today so that’s it for a while. Thanks for stopping by and taking time to comment.

  • Miss Food Fairy January 4, 2015, 9:20 pm

    Happy New Year Fiona, freebies are awesome! How can you say no to them! Pickled onions, do your family like them? Just an idea for the onions. Worcestershire sauce – checking the recipe right now as I’ve been looking for a recipe to make some, but I’ll have to get some molasses. I’m a bit excited about it – good luck with yours & hope its better than store bought (let me know please) Oh those roses are absolutely divine! I love the pink tea roses, especially if they’re fragrant, as a rose should be x

    • Fiona Ryan January 6, 2015, 6:13 pm

      I should have decanted the sauce on the weekend but things got in the way. I did dip my finger in and it tasted good so I’ll report back next time. cheers Nicole.

  • Marian@Apricot Tart January 5, 2015, 7:34 am

    Hi Fiona! Apricots in brandy – what a wonderful way to preserve one of the best flavours of summer! I am impressed with your worcestershire sauce – and will check out Sherry’s recipe! And your roses – one word – glorious! Happy New Year!

    • Fiona Ryan January 6, 2015, 6:16 pm

      Of course the Apricot Tart would like apricots in brandy. I got the idea from brandied cumquats but decided on a brandy spiced syrup so the apricots weren’t overwhelmed. Thanks for visiting. Hope to see you back again. cheers Fiona

  • Lisa January 5, 2015, 11:31 am

    I loved this post! I too think life is all about taking the small pleasures where you can find them… and like you, I adore freebies! Those brandied apricots look amazing, I bet they’d be perfect come winter time, maybe served with some icecream for a little burst of Summer when it’s cold! Those onions would be lovely in a soup, although it’s not really the weather for it now… but then again, I do like to plan ahead.

    I can almost smell your roses through my screen… home grown ones are always so fragrant! x

    • Fiona Ryan January 6, 2015, 6:20 pm

      OK, you’ve convinced me! I really want to make French onion soup but it’s so hot at the moment. I’ve decided to slice & freeze more onions for the cooler months. My mouth is watering… thanks for giving me a push.

  • Sandra January 6, 2015, 12:01 pm

    Because I live in an apartment, I love it when people share there fruit and vegie crops. Lucky you! I’m heading over to look at Sherry’s Worc sauce recipe.

    • Fiona Ryan January 6, 2015, 6:22 pm

      I live in a house but have a tiny garden so am always thrilled to get gifted produce. Thanks for stopping by.

  • celia January 6, 2015, 2:22 pm

    Oh hon, get the slicing attachment on the food processor out for those onions! You’ll be crying a river slicing them all! We love onion jam, but haven’t made it for absolutely ages. And how fabulous were those free apricots – I doubt I’d have been gracious enough to wait until the end of the day when they appeared! Homemade Worcestershire sauce? You and Sherry are amazing! 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan January 6, 2015, 6:25 pm

      I do use the food processor but the mandolin made it easy to slice them straight into the put. It was the peeling that did me in! Thanks for being a lovely host.

  • Moya January 6, 2015, 3:45 pm

    Roses are such a beautiful flower, can never have enough of them. I have never made homemade worcestershire sauce before, sounds interesting. A new kitchen in the pipeline and lots of travel, you have certainly got off to a good start. Happy new year. 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan January 6, 2015, 6:27 pm

      Yes, can’t wait for that kitchen. Every time I open a cupboard and rummage or clean the oven (ugh!) I think, soon…soon… Travelling is for work and to Canberra so not very glamorous. I’ve been doing it for over 10 years so I know the hotels of Canberra very well! Happy New Year to you too.

  • Jan (A gluttonous wife) January 8, 2015, 12:55 pm

    Thought I’d pop over and say hi, so HI Fiona 😀 How wonderful you get so well looked after, we all love some freebies….you just reminded me I have some apricots off our tree in the cupboard rippening…I bet they won’t last the day!!
    Warm regards, Jan

    • Fiona Ryan January 9, 2015, 11:16 am

      Of course there are months when there are no freebies but now that a few people are doing this, I’m hopeful for more of it. No doubt those apricots have ripened and have been eaten by now! Thanks for visiting and hope to see you back.

  • Vicki @ Boiled Eggs & Soldiers January 8, 2015, 1:12 pm

    Happy New Year. What a lovely post and I love your small things. The roses are beautiful too.

    • Fiona Ryan January 9, 2015, 11:19 am

      Thanks Vicki. The roses have all but disappeared now, particularly with the heat but lovely whilst they lasted. Thanks for stopping by.

  • SeattleDee January 8, 2015, 2:15 pm

    Fresh apricots remind me of my childhood home in So. Calif., with a tree so full of apricots we couldn’t give them all away. Mom made a lot of fruit leather, but your Brandy-soaked apricots sound SO much tastier! Love the roses and can almost smell their perfume through the monitor.

    • Fiona Ryan January 9, 2015, 11:22 am

      Though you know Dee, I love fruit leather. I’m waiting for Aldi (discount supermarket) to have dehydrators again so I can buy one. Sometimes you need to wait 18 months between specials but they usually turn up at a very good price. I have my eyes (and fruit) peeled. Thanks for visiting and hope to see you again.

  • Ania January 9, 2015, 8:08 am

    Hi Fiona, happy New Year!

    What beautiful roses you have in your kitchen, I can almost smell them 🙂

    See you next month in IMK x

    • Fiona Ryan January 9, 2015, 11:23 am

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment Ania.

  • Mel @ The cook's notebook January 12, 2015, 2:03 pm

    I love a freebie too – especially when it’s produce. YUM! Next time don’t cut the whiskery bit of the onion off – that’s what causes the aroma that leads to tears. Love the sound of the apricots – had sultanas that had been soaking for a year in a liqueur the other night – divine.

    • Fiona Ryan January 14, 2015, 4:08 pm

      Well I’ve got yet more onions to cut so I’ll remember that tip. That reminds me that I have some cherries in brandy that I must pull out. They’re probably explosive by now!

  • jason January 20, 2015, 6:30 pm

    Hi Fiona,
    how can anyone not love a freebie! Love your home grown greens, such a joy to DIY.
    Worcestershire looks great I’ll have to check out sherry’s recipe now the apples are getting ready.

    • Fiona Ryan January 21, 2015, 7:48 pm

      The sauce has been bottled and is quite delicious. I think very citrusy with the tamarind. I sent a small bottle to my brother in Sydney and he was most pleased.

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