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In My Kitchen… May 2015

May. It’s here. It’s the last month of autumn and things should be cooling down. Should be. I love a warm climate but seriously? 28c? I know those in southern climes are shivering in their boots so I should hardly be complaining but I wouldn’t mind just a little chill in the air. Before we jump into this month’s IMK, I wanted to say ‘thanks’ to everyone who visited my kitchen last month and took the time to have a read and leave a comment. I try to visit as many of the IMKs as I can each month but April just got past me. I started well and visited a few of your blogs but just couldn’t get to you all. I give you my Brownie promise to try harder this month.

Brownie Guide Fiona Ryan


In my May kitchen…

Barossa Goodies

…is a small sample of the bounty I brought back from the Barossa Valley. Of course there was wine and olive oil in the haul as well as the utterly delicious Zimmies horseradish. I also brought back another huge bag of new season walnuts. The above three items are some new goodies I encountered. Gully Gardens are a family run business who have filled a void left by Angas Park, who were purchased by foreign investors and had their enormous outlet in Angaston closed. Gully Gardens, also in Angaston, offer a huge selection of dried local fruit and some from further afield in the Riverina. After stocking up on fantastic quality prunes and huge quantities of raisins and currants to get me through until the next Vintage Festival, we spotted these ‘Ginger Gumnuts’. They are a twist on apricot delight but are made with dried pears and a hint of ginger. They are not overly sweet and are a grown up treat. The goat’s curd is from acclaimed cheesewrights, Barossa Valley Cheese Co. Though I’m very familiar with this cheesemaker, I was thrilled to be able to buy a 500g tub of it. Half a kilo! Only mildly goaty (though I like strong goaty too), this tub travelled well so it has now been safely stashed in zip lock bags in the freezer for a little taste of the Barossa whenever I want it. Finally, these gorgeous sticky figs are from a small craft cooperative in Tanunda called Allerlei. We very unkindly call it the ‘old ladies shop’ or the CWA. It’s a smaller and better ordered version of the enormous Angaston Cottage Industries. Both cooperatives allow locals to pay a small fee to sell their cakes, biscuits and jams; knitting, crocheting and other crafts; fruit and vegetables and most importantly, walnuts! If you need a kitchen towel with crochet top, this is the place to get it. During the festival, hordes descend like locusts and the shelves are picked bare so I always visit at the start of the week. The syrupy figs are being eked out and are delicious with the goat’s curd.


In my kitchen (like many IMKers)…

Sourdough Toasts on a plate

…are sourdough crackers. Those of you in the Priscilla starter club would know that her children turn our fabulous loaves but would also know that home made bread is really only best on the day it is made or the next day. Anthony will continue to eat it for another few days however we always have some stale bread that needs using. The quickest thing to do is to slice the bread thinly, spray with a bit of oil or a sprinkle of salt or herbs and simply dry them out in a low oven and store them in an airtight container. We always have a ready supply of these homemade crackers but they go quickly. Fantastic with the goat’s curd.


In my kitchen…

Pomegranate Plate

…is this lovely small Spanish platter, a gift from our friends Maria and Iain. With a beautiful pomegranate taking centre stage, to me it is more evocative of a piece of Middle Eastern pottery. I suppose it’s only a hop, step and a jump between Spain and Northern Africa, which was the gateway for the Moors into Spain in the 700’s. I treasure this little plate that was so carefully carried back from halfway across the world. It’s the ideal vehicle for sourdough crackers that go perfectly with goat’s curd.


In my kitchen…

Foodie Reading

…is a stack of food related reading. All of these were bought from the local Vinnies for only a few dollars each with the exception of the Olive Oil book, which I nabbed from a hotel book exchange. I think it’s a particularly fine haul. ‘Not Another Greek Salad’ was a lazy wander through some of the lesser travelled Greek Islands by Australian writer Ann Rickard. I can honestly say it’s the first book that has ever made me think about visiting Greece. ‘Sicilian Summer’ by Brian Johnston was a bit of a surprise. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I loved it. I talked about it in last month’s IMK when I wrote about martorana or marzipan fruit. It’s a great story, jam packed with food facts and a must read foodie insiders guide if you’re thinking of visiting Sicily. I’ve yet to get to Clarissa Dickson Wright and Susan Loomis. Extra Virginity is a bit of a dry read but it’s an excellent guide on all things olive oil so it’s made its way onto the bookshelf with other reference books. I’m currently reading ‘Stuffed’ by Patricia Volk. It’s a memoir of growing up in a Jewish restaurant family in New York. Early days but easy to read whilst snacking on sourdough crackers and goat’s curd from a pomegranate platter.


In my kitchen…

New kitchen scales

…is a new set of kitchen scales. They aren’t flashy and in fact, they come from Woolies. I had been holding out on buying a decent set of digital kitchen scales as a present to myself once our renovation is completed. I’d been using an old set of Salter scales as well as cheapie ‘diet scale’ to measure smaller amounts but the small scale gave up the ghost on me. Can you believe it? I must have paid $5 or $6 for those scales around 15 years ago and they had the audacity to stop working. You just can’t buy quality anymore! As I wandered along in the supermarket I saw these scales on sale so decided it was better to have a set of temporary scales than none at all. I don’t expect them to last for long but maybe they’ll follow in the path of the diet scales and last for years. They are used for measuring sourdough starter for bread that will become crackers to enjoy with goat’s curd.

There are plenty of other things in my kitchen but that’s enough for now. Make sure you visit Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who is the host of In My Kitchen. The tag for her blog is ‘Living well in the urban village’ and indeed, she does live life to the fullest and has some great recipes and other bits and pieces to entertain.

59 comments… add one
  • Francesca May 1, 2015, 6:11 pm

    I was interested in the book, ‘Sicilian Summer’, and hoped to land one into my kindle but alas, it’s not available. Sounds good. The sticky figs sound rather yummy too.

    • Fiona Ryan May 1, 2015, 7:23 pm

      What a shame Francesca. It’s not that old but probably ‘pre’ kindle. Brian Johnston is an ex-pat Swiss/Brit who now lives in Australia. You may see it somewhere 2nd hand. I really enjoyed it.

  • Joanne T Ferguson May 1, 2015, 6:18 pm

    What a great post Fiona that brightened my day! I LOVE your photo! You were and are a cutie!
    Love your platter the reckon your sourdough crackers would go great with wine and cheese!

    • Fiona Ryan May 1, 2015, 7:24 pm

      Thanks Joanne – I was cleaning out some photos and saw this one so thought I’d include it for fun. The sourdough crackers never last!

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime May 1, 2015, 6:24 pm

    What a stunning haul of goodies, and that scale looks like a fantastic buy 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan May 1, 2015, 7:24 pm

      It doesn’t get very good reviews but how bad can it be for $15. I may eat my words though Tandy. Time will tell.

  • pamela hayward May 1, 2015, 6:50 pm

    Love your pretty platters. Spent last weekend in .brisbane with son & GF .great weather and a trip to Eat street (Japanese pizza – delicious) and great markets on Saturday where I bought some amazing organic fudge from Byron Bay. Sunday a trip to the sunshine coast with a great return inland with stops at malady cheese, the ginger shop and a visit to the big pineapple – sad for my son to see how it now is. Love Brissy

    • Fiona Ryan May 1, 2015, 7:27 pm

      I was up the coast at Caloundra and Mooloolaba last Friday. It was stunning. (a bit different from today huh?) Maleny is lovely too. Luckily, we usually have a nice dry winter with plenty of sunshine. Thanks for being a regular visitor Pamela and taking time to comment.

  • Lizzy (Good Things) May 1, 2015, 8:07 pm

    Oooooh, lots of goodies in your kitchen Fiona. Sadly, sour dough and gluten generally is off my menu nowadays… envious, as I loved working with a dough made from starter. Love your platter… and the top photo of Brownie is so cute! PS thanks for the chat today too.

    • Fiona Ryan May 1, 2015, 8:44 pm

      I’ve had the platter for a while and always think it’s a shame that I cover the pomegranate, which to me, is the best bit. Looking forward to a catch up later in the year.

  • Elizabeth May 2, 2015, 8:46 am

    What a great haul of books, as you know I have no more room for books, but they seem to keep finding their way into my house 🙂 I keep forgetting to make those crackers for dips, so you have inspired me! French Onion soup and Cheese sourdough creations, here I come 🙂 Liz xx

    • Fiona Ryan May 2, 2015, 1:34 pm

      I have no room either Liz but they are just too hard to resist at $2 a pop. I like ‘Stuffed’ but will be setting that one loose when it’s done as whilst it’s a great account of a childhood and life, it doesn’t give me much on an insight into the NYC Jewish community. Those crackers sound good!

  • Jan (A gluttonous wife) May 2, 2015, 8:54 am

    Oh your trip to the Barossa sounds fantastic!!! Great haul of books too 🙂 Jan x

    • Fiona Ryan May 2, 2015, 1:35 pm

      I couldn’t help myself – I went back and bought a few more books ; )

  • Maureen | Orgasmic Chef May 2, 2015, 11:04 am

    My goodness. Every month you have some of the most wonderful things and then I think, “Where does she put all of it?” I love those sticky figs and I wish we had a CWA shop in our part of the world.

    • Fiona Ryan May 2, 2015, 1:36 pm

      I am the queen on downsizing Maureen. As we are doing a renovation, I am parting with quite a few things but some are just too hard to give up. Like books. cheers xx

  • Napoli Restaurant Alert May 2, 2015, 7:42 pm

    We can have an acronym – the PSC (Priscilla Starter Club)

    • Fiona Ryan May 3, 2015, 6:09 pm

      Indeed. And also the PSCCM (Priscilla Starter Club Cracker Makers)!

  • Mandy May 2, 2015, 9:51 pm

    Aww, you were such a cutie-pie and all the books look fab.
    Have a splendid day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

    • Fiona Ryan May 3, 2015, 6:09 pm

      The books were a great buy – not that I really need any more…

  • Glenda May 2, 2015, 11:39 pm

    Fi, That is a great haul of books. You have done well.

    • Fiona Ryan May 3, 2015, 6:10 pm

      Hi Glenda – I bought a few more the other day but don’t tell anyone!

  • Ania @ milktoastandhoney.co.uk May 3, 2015, 1:27 am

    Fiona, sticky figs – yummy! And thank you for the reading recommendations. As for that early picture – butter wouldn’t melt 😉 Thanks for sharing your kitchen x

    • Fiona Ryan May 3, 2015, 6:10 pm

      Hi Ania – I’ll admit, it is a cute photo. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

  • Greg May 3, 2015, 6:46 am

    Your kitchen looks so colorful and tasty! I wish we were headed into winter. Our summers are brutal here.

    • Fiona Ryan May 3, 2015, 6:11 pm

      Thanks Greg. It’s funny how we long after the season that’s happening at the other end of the world.

  • Nancy | Plus Ate Six May 3, 2015, 10:36 am

    What a beautiful plate – the colours are gorgeous. I need to start making crackers with my sourdough because the freezer is chocker full of sliced bread! Great haul of books too to keep you busy over the winter.

    • Fiona Ryan May 3, 2015, 6:12 pm

      Yes Nancy, crackers are the way to go. I must say, my bread consumption has gone through the roof since Priscilla came to visit.

  • celia May 3, 2015, 5:28 pm

    Seriously, what a cute little Brownie you were! 🙂 My son subsists on sourdough crackers (much classier name than the “crunchy bread” they’re called here) – I usually bake an extra loaf just to make them. Btw, if you increase the hydration of your sourdough (ie. add more water), the loaf will stay a bit softer for longer. Having said that, it doesn’t always work as an overnight loaf, because it needs a bit more fussing over as it proves (ie. you need to fold it every few hours to build structure). I think your new kitchen scales will probably surprise you and last 20 years! 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan May 3, 2015, 6:13 pm

      The reviews for the scales are woeful so time will tell. Thanks for the sourdough tip!

  • Maree May 3, 2015, 7:34 pm

    LOL! I would never dare make a Brownie promise, I got kicked out after 2 sessions for failing to comply. I’m actually rather proud of that now that I’m nearly ‘old’. Love the Barossa region, we too came home loaded up with so many great things, Wish it was close enough to do a regular visit. Sourdough crackers sound great and I love the platter. Thanks.

    • Fiona Ryan May 8, 2015, 11:49 am

      Well I’m laughing that you got kicked out. Being incredibly bossy and orderly, I rose through the ranks at a lighening pace from Seconder to Sixer but couldn’t make the leap to Guides. I hit the glass ceiling early.

  • Moya May 3, 2015, 10:17 pm

    You look so cute in your brownie outfit… lovely little memories. Celia’s sourdough is still going strong in my kitchen and yes it is best eaten on the day of baking. Making crackers is a great idea. Thank for the tip and a look inside your kitchen 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan May 8, 2015, 11:50 am

      Mr Tiffin is very excited because this weekend I’ll be making crackers with a loaf that has a zaatar swirl through it!

  • Vicki @ Boiled Eggs & Soldiers May 4, 2015, 12:58 pm

    Look at those sticky figs. Going to Vinnies for books is a great idea and what a cute Brownie!

    • Fiona Ryan May 16, 2015, 4:07 pm

      Yes – I commend you to visit the Thrift Shops of the world!

  • Jennifer @ Milk and Honey May 4, 2015, 6:29 pm

    I love a cookbook find at the local op shop. Looks like you scored yourself a stack of good ones. Love your sticky figs. “Sticky Figs” always sounds a bit rude to me, or is that just my inner 12 year old talking? Pairing them with goats curd sounds divine.

    • Fiona Ryan May 8, 2015, 12:54 pm

      The Sticky Figs are all gone now. Very syrupy and decadent and yes, they sound a bit naughty. I’ve finished ‘Stuffed’ now – it’s OK but not something I’d re-read so I’ll be passing it on.

  • Kari @ bite-sized thoughts May 5, 2015, 3:07 am

    That stack of books is very enticing! I need some new kitchen scales too and hope yours prove reliable and long-lasting. I love the platter and the look of the sticky figs too!

    • Fiona Ryan May 16, 2015, 3:35 pm

      The scales are already a pain as the bowl covers the display but with my tongue stuck out of the corner of my mouth, I can just make out the weight!

  • sherry from sherrys pickings May 6, 2015, 10:39 am

    yes indeed a very cute photo of you. love the platter and the books.. my shelves are overflowing but that doesn’t stop me buying more. i didn’t know angas park had been bought out- what a shame!

    • Fiona Ryan May 8, 2015, 11:56 am

      It’s a bit of an addiction. My father was a well known comic collector so it shouldn’t really be a surprise that it’s trickled down through the genes. Yes, Angas Park was bought out just over 2 years ago by a Chinese company. They still produce but they do it from a factory in the Riverina. Should probably now be known as River Park.

  • Kim | a little lunch May 7, 2015, 1:19 pm

    Fiona, the way that you subtly but supremely built your story was an absolute delight! Thanks for a grin-inducing read. Your fresh walnuts and horseradish sounded wonderful, too. ( I bet they taste delish with crackers and goats curd! 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan May 8, 2015, 11:51 am

      Yes, Kim, you’ve got me – everything tastes good with goat’s curd. Hope all is well on The Lake and the new season bring new surprises. cheers xxx

  • Miss Food Fairy May 8, 2015, 1:37 pm

    Fiona, you look so cute as a girl guide – I always wanted o be one but we were never allowed. All those beautiful goodies from the Barossa sound amazing! Have fun cooking with, oh I mean eating 😉 them. I just love goats cheese too, as long as it’s not too overpowering and I also have my favourite goats cheese on my #IMK this month too. Have a great month Fiona x

    • Fiona Ryan May 9, 2015, 10:02 am

      I loved being a Brownie but was a bit over it by the time I had to move on to Guides. My mum couldn’t understand why. I just knew my time was done : ) Yes, I saw your goat’s cheese too. xxx

  • EllaDee May 8, 2015, 6:34 pm

    You rocked my world… goats curd can be frozen! Not that it lasts long here but I now aspire to 1/2 kilo tubs, fresh walnuts and sticky figs… food to live on 🙂
    A quick online search of my local library shelves and I’ve ordered Sicilian Summer & Rifling Through My Drawers… it’s been a while since I read a foodie memoir, I’m looking forward to it.
    I looked at those scales in Woolies and restrained myself. I have a cheap plastic scale that I’ve barely used plus I’m not cooking by weight -at the moment I convert weight to mass if necessary- but I plan to invest in keepers when I get more time & space.
    Oh, that pomegranate platter… what a treasure.

    • Fiona Ryan May 9, 2015, 9:59 am

      Ella Dee – don’t you know I freeze everything and I mean everything? Well OK, I don’t freeze eggs but I freeze cream, cheese, cakes, sliced onions, cooked black beans… the list is endless. With only 2 of us, it’s the most practical thing to do when you buy something that you aren’t going to use in a hurry or know you only want a little of. I’m sure you will enjoy Sicilian Summer. Rifling next on the list!

  • shaheen May 9, 2015, 1:14 am

    The gumnots have got me all curious. The pomegranate plate is utterly gorgeous, making its appearance on celebratory occasions no doubt.

    • Fiona Ryan May 9, 2015, 9:53 am

      The gumnuts are an odd taste sensation. Definitely not sweet as it’s really just dried pear and ginger. Yes, I love the plate.

  • Johanna @ Green Gourmet Giraffe May 12, 2015, 9:28 pm

    Oh that brownie photo brings back the memories (I was a tintookie and wondered if you were too but hard to tell without colour!). Lots of interesting stuff in your kitchen – love all your reading and your sourdough crackers – have never made crackers with my sourdough – I just hoard crusts in the freezer in hope of bread and butter pudding. Beside I don’t have a lovely platter like yours to serve them on 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan May 14, 2015, 9:29 pm

      We can’t get enough of the crackers. I do use a lot of shop bought crusts for breadcrumbs but I find the sourdough isn’t that great for breadcrumbs, so crackers it is!

      I was a Junjarrin: ‘good spirits and the hardest working spirits in the bush. They make sure that the sick and helpless creatures have food, water and shelter. Their favourite job is to watch over the trees and flowers in the bush. They love helping the wildflowers to open their petals and baby ferns to uncurl their tight little fronds. Their grins are so bright and cheerful, they are often taken for the rising sun.’ (Australian Brownie Guide Book, 1975). cheers xxx

  • Gretchen May 14, 2015, 10:20 pm

    Those ginger gum nuts sound heavenly, something I would have to hide from the kids! I adore goat cheese as well, a half kilo would be fantastic. So many wonderful cookbooks as well. We also make those sourdough crackers, perfect for our carpet picnic nights.

    • Fiona Ryan May 16, 2015, 3:36 pm

      I don’t think the kids would like them Gretchen. I had one again yesterday and they are very ‘plain’ in that there is no extra sugar. I think they’d sneak one and then wouldn’t come back for another. I love the idea of a carpet picnic.

  • Tania @ The Cook's Pyjamas May 17, 2015, 7:43 pm

    I did not know that about Angus Park. I am glad a family business has started up in their place. I like the sound of the ginger gumnuts. I also have sourdough breadcrumbs and croutons stashed in the freezer, should you feel like a change from crackers 😉

    • Fiona Ryan May 18, 2015, 7:05 pm

      Yes, I’m glad they have too Tania and we will always make sure to return. I hadn’t even thought of croutons. Next weekend!

  • Lisa May 19, 2015, 1:51 pm

    I love that platter… how lovely and cheerful it is! And most definitely a perfect repository for sourdough crackers.

    I held out as long as I could for the elusive perfect kitchen scale but caved and bought some from Aldi when they were last on sale. For $9 they do an amazing job and are still going strong almost a year later.

    • Fiona Ryan May 20, 2015, 10:46 am

      Well of course my kitchen scale works but when I put anything on, I can’t see the display. Still, it does the job for now and it was less than $15 so I can hardly complain. Thanks for stopping by Lisa.

  • Beck @ Goldenpudding May 27, 2015, 8:44 pm

    Edible souvenirs are the absolute best and what a great haul with the cookbooks! I mean how could you go past a book called ‘Extra Virginity’ 😉 I love the pomegranate platter too…

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