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In My Kitchen… June (yes June!) 2015

The title of the post says it all really. Just as I was about to start writing this, I saw a cheeky tweet from New York Magazine about what Netflix will have on offer at Christmas. Christmas!? We’re not quite at that end of the year yet but some television producer is on to it. So here we are in June and once again I’m sharing what’s in my as yet unrenovated kitchen. I must say I am less than impressed with the delay in starting our renovations. There are legitimate reasons for the delays but I am still annoyed. Last week the light stopped working in the oven. Usually I’d just search for a replacement bulb but really, what’s the point when I hope (hope) to have a new oven in a couple of months? I can’t work under these conditions! Meanwhile, in the real world…

In my June kitchen…

Cardamom Chocolate

…is this dangerously addictive chocolate. I went to Aldi to pick up some milk for work and saw these in amongst the weekly specials. I bought ‘Milk Chocolate & Indian Cinnamon’ and ‘Milk Chocolate & Cardamom & Vanilla’. Anthony and I are dark chocolate fans but when we opened the cinnamon milk chocolate, we did indeed eat the whole (small) block over the course of one evening. Hence the empty wrapper. The thing that makes them so moreish is the inclusion of crunchy bits of Bombay mix or sev, as it’s also known. ‘Ideas From India, Made In Surrey…’ says the wrapping with 7% of profit going to Elephant Family. As an added bonus, all chocolate from Aldi Australia is palm oil free and this is a very important factor in my purchasing decisions. I went back for more and could only score another two blocks of the cardamom. I’ll mention that 1/3 of a block, when microwaved into a mug of milk, makes a quick and decadent hot chocolate. I hope it returns to the shop at a later date. Speaking of India…


In my kitchen…


…are some new Tiffin boxes, also from Aldi. I am busily selling, gifting and thrifting my excess clutter in preparation for the elusive renovation but, when you see your blog’s namesake in the local supermarket, you just have to make an exception. Don’t you? If you want to know more about what a Tiffin actually is (for it is more than one thing) or why I use it as the name for my blog, pop over to my ‘About TIFFIN‘ page and go to about halfway down, to learn more. The most likely use for these is as picnic ware or for serving Indian dishes as part of an Indian feast.


In my kitchen…


…the packing up has begun in earnest. In cleaning out the ‘second draw’, I came across my lovely old fashioned spurtle and thought I would show it to you. Spurtles are Scottish in origin and are used to stir porridge or occasionally, soups. With constant stirring, the shape of the spurtle stops the porridge from congealing or sticking to the bottom of the pan. There’s even an Annual Porridge Making Championship where the trophy awarded is The Golden Spurtle. I can’t recall exactly but I’m fairly sure I would have acquired my spurtle from a 2nd hand shop for a few cents. They probably wouldn’t have known what it was. ‘She wants to buy a wooden stick?’ Oh well, give it to her for 50c.’ I must tell you that I am not a fan of porridge at all. Yes, it sticks to your ribs but, it tastes like wallpaper. So why would I buy a spurtle? Because there’s another kind of porridge that a spurtle works brilliantly with. Polenta. Bet you hadn’t thought of that.


In my kitchen…

Pumpkin Muffins

…was one of my favourite things. Homemade food that I didn’t make. As much as I love to cook, I really enjoy it when someone else does the cooking. I went to dinner at our friend Josie’s the other night and another friend, Trish, brought along these delicious Sweet Pumpkin Bread muffins along with the recipe. Full of fresh pumpkin and spices, we enjoyed them gently warmed the next day with a pat of butter and a cup of coffee. Thanks Trish! What a surprise and a treat.


Not in my kitchen but on my blog…

4bc Logo…there’s a lot going on. I wanted to catch you up on a few things you may have missed. I now do a regular segment on radio station 4BC, talking about all things food with Clare Blake. Both Clare (and I) managed to survive the recent merge and purge of Fairfax and Macquarie radio stations and can be heard jabbering away 2.30pm, every other Wednesday. I had never met Clare before I started doing the segment but we just clicked and have no trouble filling 30 minutes. If you want to listen from interstate or overseas, you can stream via the 4BC website. If you want to know when I’m on, follow my page on Facebook to receive a memory jog. I normally take a quick selfie in the studio and share it on Twitter and Facebook to remind people to listen in.

PandoraA month or so ago I received an email from the State Library of Qld about adding my blog to PANDORA – a web archive run by the National Library of Australia. The website says ‘The PANDORA Archive is a selective collection of web publications and websites relating to Australia and Australians. It includes materials that document the cultural, social, political life and activities of the Australian community and intellectual and expressive activities of Australians.’ There are no doubt many hundreds of thousands of blogs in the archive including the blogs of many who are reading this but it was a real thrill to receive the email, requesting permission to add my blog.

A-Z Guidebook BadgeRegular readers would know that my food writing often relates to places I have visited or tastes I have encountered whilst travelling in Australia and further afield. This month I am starting the A-Z Guidebook Travel Link Up and am encouraging those with an interest in travel to join in. Each month bloggers are asked to use the nominated letter of the alphabet to write about a place starting with that letter. Street, city, country or icon – there’s a lot of latitude. The link up start on June 15th with the first letter of course being ‘A‘. You can find more information in the A-Z Guidebook tab at the top of the blog. If you are interested in joining in the fun of sharing your own travel stories and would like a reminder, leave me a note in the comments.

In My Kitchen is a regular monthly get together hosted by Celia from Fig Jam & Lime Cordial. I have found many new blogs and struck up some digital friendships through IMK and would encourage you to visit some of the other bloggers from around the world to see what’s happening in their own kitchens.

For those interested, one of the things specially commissioned by Netflix for Christmas 2015 is ‘A Very Murray Christmas’ with Bill Murray. Watch the 20 second teaser here.

50 comments… add one
  • Joanne T Ferguson June 2, 2015, 8:33 pm

    What a great post Fiona that made me smile and brightened my day! Well done on your achievements and HOW exciting continuing to have your own radio show!
    Should you wish a laugh, hop over and check out my porridge post with the spurtle!
    LOVE the Tiffin ware and if something was associated with my blog or me, I would have bought it too!
    Sorry to hear about your renos, but you are not alone with your experience to date!

    • Fiona Ryan June 5, 2015, 11:36 am

      My husband read the post and felt guilty so had a long talk with the builder so we are on track (?) for a July start. We all know though, July has 31 days!

  • Liz (Good Things) June 2, 2015, 11:05 pm

    Ah, I haven’t seen a spurtle since the days when I co-owned the cookware store. They are quite rare, you know! Thanks for the heads up on that Aldi chocolate.. the cardamom one sounds good, pity it’s milk, though. These days I can tolerate dark chokky better. Congrats on the radio spot. It’s a great medium. Happy June! xx

    • Fiona Ryan June 5, 2015, 11:37 am

      I didn’t know they were hard to come by – now I’m doubly pleased : )

  • Glenda June 2, 2015, 11:32 pm

    Hi Fiona, I love the spurtle. I had never seen one before. Maybe I am just tooooo young.

    • Fiona Ryan June 5, 2015, 11:38 am

      It seems the spurtle is the talking point of this IMK. As my mum comments, the top is shaped like a thistle. Very Scottish!

  • Jan Rhoades June 3, 2015, 7:56 am

    And traditionally, that knob on the top of a spurtle is supposed to be a Scotch thistle.

    • Fiona Ryan June 5, 2015, 11:39 am

      I didn’t know that but now you mention it, I can see the similarity. Nice to add this tidbit to my general knowledge!

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime June 3, 2015, 5:47 pm

    I had never heard of a spurtle until recently and this is going to be the first thing I buy when we are in Scotland later this year. Hope your renovations start soon 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan June 5, 2015, 12:13 pm

      Well it’s all about the spurtle in this IMK! Liz from Good Things says they are hard to come by so maybe you should pick one up the next time you see one in the UK.

  • Mandy June 3, 2015, 5:56 pm

    Fiona, I love your Spurtle. I would love one of those and think I would use it for lots of stirring.
    Have a wonderful and happy day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  • Tania | My Kitchen Stories June 3, 2015, 6:34 pm

    Congratulations on all of your great news. i will have to try and listen in one of these Wednesdays. Great idea to use the spurtle for polenta. brilliant in fact. Aldi does keep popping those surprises right in the middle of the store don’t they?

    • Fiona Ryan June 5, 2015, 12:24 pm

      Hi Tania – it’s a pity my name is plastered all over the 4BC website with a list of my topics and credentials. I think it’s all about me but they may think a little differently….

  • Francesca June 4, 2015, 7:10 am

    Love the new Tiffin set Fiona. I have an old Indian set that sometimes gets an airing for a picnic of curries. I am interested in your new travel blog as I tend to do more travels stories than cooking these days. We travel often.
    I was also approached by Pandora after the bushfire in 2009 when I wrote a piece for an older Blog I had at that time. I hope this stuff is useful for research one day.

    • Fiona Ryan June 5, 2015, 12:24 pm

      We are in fact now going on a picnic this weekend Francesca so they will be pressed into service. I have added you to the list for an A-Z reminder.

  • Napoli Restaurant Alert June 4, 2015, 1:38 pm

    Love Aldi – some of their special buys are great!

    • Fiona Ryan June 5, 2015, 12:25 pm

      I have an Aldi right opposite where I work. It’s seriously damaging my wallet!

  • Liz June 4, 2015, 2:02 pm

    I learned so many things from this post, I have never heard of a tiffin or a sprutle (although I have read and enjoyed your blog before). What a wonderful idea to use the sprurthle for polenta.

    Great achievements, I will sign up to get your pod casts and look forward to listening to you.

    • Fiona Ryan June 5, 2015, 12:26 pm

      Thanks Liz – I aim to please. earlier, my mum commented that the top of the spurtle is meant to resemble a thistle, which makes sense. We’re a font of useless information!

  • Amanda (@lambsearshoney) June 5, 2015, 9:43 am

    Lovely roundup, thanks Fiona, although now I think I have spurtle envy. and of course you had to buy the tiffin tins – no argument!

    • Fiona Ryan June 5, 2015, 12:29 pm

      Gosh! Who’d have thought that spurtle was going to be so popular? How am I going to top that next IMK?

  • Johanna @ Green Gourmet Giraffe June 5, 2015, 10:41 pm

    I feel well ahead of myself now that I know what is on netflix at christmas – ha ha! The chocolate and the muffins look delicious and I sometime fancy a porridge spurtle even though my brief fling with porridge seems over and I am a bit off it again. Your radio show sounds interesting but I think I would be kidding myself if I thought I would stream it and focus on it because I usually don’t despite good intentions.

    • Fiona Ryan June 11, 2015, 10:00 pm

      That chocolate is amazing but sadly all gone. Luckily, Aldi has come up with a dark chocolate and sour cherry replacement!

  • Kim | a little lunch June 6, 2015, 11:52 pm

    Fiona, the history behind your blog name was fascinating, and the flavor combo in your Gujarati Potatoes sounds as intriguing as chocolate with cardamom and vanilla. Oh, yum! Congratulations on being added to the Australian blog archive. So much to enjoy and celebrate in your IMK post!

    • Fiona Ryan June 11, 2015, 10:02 pm

      Thanks Kim. The Gujarati Potatoes are often requested and very popular at our bi-annual get together in the Barossa, on curry night.

  • celia June 8, 2015, 6:50 pm

    I’m not sure I could watch Bill Murray in another Christmas special after Scrooged. 🙂 Your tiffins made me smile – when I was in hospital after having Big Boy, my mother brought me food in a tiffin. SO much better than hospital fare! And a spurtle! Anne mentioned them in one of her IMK posts (Life in Mud Spattered Boots) and I thought they sounded rude.. 😉 Congrats on the growing fame, very well deserved!!! xxx

    • Fiona Ryan June 11, 2015, 10:04 pm

      Spurtles are the new spoons don’t you know? I think a tiffin in the hospital would be a much safer bet than the cafeteria.

  • Kirsty June 8, 2015, 7:27 pm

    Fiona, I saw those tiffins in Aldi and thought of you! I’m so glad you bought some. Seems very fitting! However I didn’t see that chocolate! I must go back and see if they have any kicking around in the specials area…
    I watched the Annual Porridge Championship on Foxtel one year. It was really fun to watch the competitors with all their creative recipes. Nice price on yur spurtle!
    Cheers, Kirsty

    • Fiona Ryan June 11, 2015, 10:08 pm

      I’ve been back and scoured the shelves but the chocolate’s all gone. I think I’d enjoy watching the Porridge Championship! cheers xx

  • Jan (A gluttonous wife) June 8, 2015, 10:43 pm

    I saw that chocolate at Aldi but didn’t get any as I knew it would end up on my thighs!! I hope your reno’s start really soon!! And of course you couldn’t go past that Tiffin now could you! Jan x

    • Fiona Ryan June 11, 2015, 10:09 pm

      Mr Tiffin read my post and felt guilty about the delays so has been on to the builder. Let’s pick this conversation up next month…

  • Jan Rhoades June 10, 2015, 5:09 pm

    And on another note…on Monday I used my spurtle to muddle the mint and ice before I added the Malibu, pineapple juice and soda. Went down a treat.

    • Fiona Ryan June 12, 2015, 12:55 pm

      I’m sure it did. See, it’s not all about porridge. Thank goodness.

  • Anne June 11, 2015, 2:59 am

    Christmas! What a thought.
    Love your tiffin boxes – someone gave me a set a few years ago and we use them loads. As you say, how could you pass them by. Very impressive to be added to the archive – what an achievement.
    Glad to see that Celia wasn’t as rude about your spurtle as she was about mine 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan June 12, 2015, 12:56 pm

      It seems there is much work to do about spurtle education Anne. We are sisters in support of the fledgling spurtle movement in Australia.

  • Elaine @ foodbod June 11, 2015, 3:34 pm

    Oh Fiona, I feel your renovation pain, this time last year we were knee deep in mess and constantly extending end dates…it was all worth it, but I wouldn’t do it again!!! I love your tiffin, I want one even though I wouldn’t use it, and I love the spurtle, now that I would use, but I also just love bits of wood!! Your round up of what you’ve been doing sounds amazing, what a star you are 🙂 happy June! Christmas here come!!!

    • Elaine @ foodbod June 11, 2015, 4:19 pm

      That should say, Christmas here WE come!!

    • Fiona Ryan June 12, 2015, 12:58 pm

      Anthony felt very guilty about the renovation after this post. He has been speaking with the builder and we hope to sign a contract soon. We’ll see…

      • Elaine @ foodbod June 14, 2015, 4:16 pm

        Good luck xx

  • EllaDee June 12, 2015, 12:27 pm

    Words I never thought I’d say… “I want a spurtle!”
    Congratulations on your radio spot sticking and the invite to Pandora 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan June 12, 2015, 12:58 pm

      So the spurtle is the star of this post. How will I ever beat that in July?

  • Maureen | Orgasmic Chef June 14, 2015, 2:23 pm

    I never heard of a spurtle before but I love a stick in the kitchen. Good idea for polenta!

    Renovating is agony but it’s also very exciting and I hope you share the progress with us.

  • Emily (Cooking For Kishore) June 16, 2015, 4:56 am

    Hi Fiona, Great post! I love my stainless steel lunch tiffins, plenty of space and easy clean up. Love the idea of your travel linkup, look forward to participating in the future. Thanks for the peek. 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan June 26, 2015, 12:05 pm

      The tiffins are still sitting in their boxes. They will be unveiled ‘PKR’ (Post Kitchen Renovation)!

  • Miss Food Fairy June 20, 2015, 4:39 pm

    I love your tiffin containers Fiona – can’t believe I missed those beauties at Aldi! I’ll be keeping my eyes open for sure. I’m always looking for new chocolate to try and now this one is on my list too 🙂 If I remember, I will stream your food show to listen to your foodie chats – keep up the good work xx

    • Fiona Ryan June 24, 2015, 6:07 pm

      Hi Nicole – thanks for you kind comments. You can stream the show via the 4BC website or any digital player. Sadly, 4BC are poor and can’t afford podcasts. I’m sure demand for my fortnightly piece would send their ratings sky high!

  • Lisa June 22, 2015, 9:54 am

    Bit slow getting around to the other IMK posts this month, but HOW did I miss those Aldi chocolates? I must have a sticky around my local ones to see if I can pick up some dregs!

    Totally understand the need to have a blog namesake item. I also understand the downsizing… I love to de-clutter but I can’t walk past a bargain or a must have either… it’s a hard line to walk.

    Congratulations on all your wonderful achievements! x

    • Fiona Ryan June 24, 2015, 6:05 pm

      Yes – how did you miss those chocolates. All totally gone now but i dream of the next time they have them (probably in 12 months). I walk the tightrope of clutter/declutter every day!

  • Cate June 29, 2015, 5:33 am

    ooh love the tiffin tins! Would love to join the travel link up too, Such a good month for IMK!

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