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In My Kitchen… July 2015

There are no spurtles in my kitchen this month. Who would have thought that a simple wooden stick would have had such an effect? But it did. Nearly every person who visited my June IMK, hosted by Celia from Fig Jam & Lime Cordial made a comment about it. They had heard of it (or hadn’t). They had one (or wanted one). They liked porridge (or didn’t). Some had interesting spurtle facts to share in the comments. It’s been packed away now, with increased security, given its fame and allure.

Thanks from Mr Spurtle

I don’t think there are any superstars in this month’s IMK post but you just don’t know…

In my July kitchen…

Gifted Passionfruit

…there are homegrown passionfruit. Not grown in my home though. We stayed a night at our friend’s house in Witta near Maleny, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. They are travelling overseas at the moment and offered their home for people to stay in whilst away. Maleny is a sought after destination with lovely views, fresh mountain air and cool temperatures. That’s very alluring to Brisbane locals where the mercury rarely falls below 10c. We were encouraged to pick anything that was ripe in the veggie patch and I was thrilled to see so many passionfruit. I scoffed quite a few and froze the pulp of the rest for use in a later dessert or summer cocktail.

In my kitchen…

Shitake Mushrooms

…are dried, sliced shiitake mushrooms. I always have a bag of dried whole shiitake mushrooms in the cupboard. They are a handy standby to add to Asian hotpots and at a pinch, casseroles and slow cooks. Simply add hot water and allow them to soak for 5 – 10 minutes before adding them to the dish. I normally buy them at Yuen’s Supermarket in the Valley but this sliced version came from Danda, of all places. Danda is like Daiso – one of those Japanese ‘everything is $2.80’ (1 Yen) shops. I can’t say I recall even seeing dried, sliced shitakes in Yuen’s and at $2.80, they are a darn sight cheaper. As Danda also stock the whole variety, I’ll be buying both versions from there in future.

In my kitchen…

Casserole dish

…is a small baking dish. I buy most of my baking dishes and casseroles from op shops as I’d rather give things a second life than contribute to land fill. Having said that, I bought one of these small baking dishes last year to replace one that had broken. It wasn’t as long as the last one but did the job. So much so that I often found myself needing a second. When I saw these again in the supermarket, I grabbed its mate. Great when you are baking a large dish in the oven and just want to squeeze in a small side dish too.

In my kitchen…

Pineapple plate

…is this lovely pineapple melamine plate. A gift from my Mum, it is a small souvenir of her recent visit to the USA. Pineapples are the decorating item at the moment but have a long history of being used in home design. Christopher Columbus encountered the exotic pineapple in South America in the late 1400’s and by the 16th Century it had started to make its way to Europe. Impossible to grow without the aid of a hothouse, pineapples were seen as a status symbol and display of wealth. As they made their way into the Americas in the 17th Century, there were occasions where pineapples were rented to elevate a person’s status in society. The symbol of the pineapple came to represent ‘Welcome’ and started to be included in all sorts of motifs in furniture, tableware, iron work and even in masonry and architecture.  A wonderful example is the utterley fabulous ‘The Pineapple’ in Dunmore, Scotland. My pineapple plate has gone into one of the packing boxes to emerge in my new kitchen.

In my kitchen…

The Bonk

…is The Bonk. What is The Bonk? The Bonk is a nutcracker that makes light work of even the toughest nut. We asked for The Bonk on our wedding gift register nearly 20 years ago. That’s the sort of people we are. Who needs Limoges? The reason I’m showing you The Bonk is two-fold. The first is because we have a large quantity of walnuts and pecans that we’re currently working our way through. I should sit down, shell and freeze them but I tend to just stand at the kitchen bench cracking and eating them. The second reason I’m showing you the Bonk is that a number of people had macadamia nuts in their June IMK posts, talking about how devilish they are to crack. I’m here to say that the macadamia is no challenge for The Bonk. The simple heavy screw mechanism applies pressure to the hardest nut and cracks it wide open. I’m sure there’s some technical term relating to a fulcrum or something but all I know is that the macadamias are no match for The Bonk. If you’re keen, you can buy one here. A wise investment and sure to save chips out of the cement in your garage floor.

So that’s some of what’s happening in my kitchen this month. Thanks to those who joined in the A-Z Guidebook Travel Link Up. I was very happy with the response and the ingenuity of contributors. It you would like to join next month, it starts on the 15th and the letter is ‘B’.

48 comments… add one
  • Elaine @ foodbod June 30, 2015, 10:04 pm

    What…no wooden sticks??? Really? 🙁
    How funny that is created so much discussion last month 🙂 maybe the BONK will do it this month??
    I love the history of pineapples, it’s so cool that they the ownership of a pineapple suggested such social heights, and explains why they appear in so many past designs.

    • Fiona Ryan July 7, 2015, 10:59 am

      I suppose one day people may look back at something like a mobile phone and think it is so run of the mill they couldn’t possibly imagine ever being status symbols. Oh hang on…I think that’s now!

  • Mandy June 30, 2015, 10:45 pm

    I reckon you going to have to hide your bonk away too if the Nutworks runs out of stock!
    Have a beautiful day!
    🙂 Mandy xo

    • Fiona Ryan July 7, 2015, 11:00 am

      It’s very popular. I wish I was a distributor!

  • Glenda July 1, 2015, 1:04 am

    Hi Fiona, love all your stuff. We are still getting passionfruit but they are not ripening. It is too cold now. Your bonk looks cool.

    • Fiona Ryan July 7, 2015, 11:01 am

      I just saw a friend who stayed at Witta on the weekend and she picked another 20 or so. She doesn’t even like passionfruit but luckily her husband does.

  • RobertL July 1, 2015, 8:30 am

    I’m interested in your opinion of the BONK. My family got one when I was a teenager. It worked well but it wasn’t built sturdily enough. After a few years the thread distorted under the strain and you couldn’t even turn it.

    Pity – it was very efficient up until then.

    • Fiona Ryan July 3, 2015, 5:03 pm

      Well we’ve had the bonk for nearly 20 years so I’d say it’s a success. Invest in a new one.

  • celia July 1, 2015, 8:53 am

    I’m pretty sure the BONK started life as a macadamia cracker! We have one, but the blasted maccies STILL take ages to crack! That pineapple plate is the bee’s knees. And I had to laugh – I read your tweet starting with “Do you need a BONK?” and the first line of your post was “There are not spurtles in my kitchen this month..” Yes, I know, I’m a worry.. 😉

    • Fiona Ryan July 3, 2015, 5:02 pm

      So now we know why macadamias are so expensive… Recently there’s been a bloody bush rat or something sitting on our tin roof eating macadamias at 2am and then letting them roll down the roof into the gutter. Talk about noisy! He definitely needs a bonk.

  • Elizabeth July 1, 2015, 9:47 am

    Wow, yes it is amazing what people find fascinating… I think the bonk is going to big hit, especially with your overseas visitors… I love a bonk, 🙂 as it is the only way I can get to those amazing macadamia nuts… I don’t think people realise how hard they are!!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing! Liz xxx

    • Fiona Ryan July 3, 2015, 4:59 pm

      I think people don’t know what they’re missing if they don’t have a bonk. They could certainly minimise finger and toe smashes!

  • Mel @ The cook's notebook July 1, 2015, 10:15 am

    we definitely need a bonk! Especially as there is a macadamia tree in the backyard that never gets taken advantage of. Love the pineapple plate too

    • Fiona Ryan July 3, 2015, 4:57 pm

      Just get The Bonk Mel. You won’t be disappointed. (and don’t tell Anthony you have a tree in your yard!)

  • sherry from sherrys pickings July 1, 2015, 12:54 pm

    yes we too have had a Bonk for many years and they are indeed fab for cracking macadamias. Love that pineapple plate – so cute. Re spurtles – i often use mine in winter for stirring porridge. we were at the powerhouse market on the weekend and guess what i bought? another spurtle. i actually got it for my niece but then decided it was so cute i had to keep it. crazy i know! who needs 2? me obviously..
    great post this month. love the passionfruit too!

    • Fiona Ryan July 3, 2015, 4:57 pm

      Yes – but did your spurtle have eyes on it and could it speak? I actually had Clare ask me on the radio where you could get spurtles so I’ll be sure to mention the Powerhouse Markets next time.

  • Jan Rhoades July 1, 2015, 7:33 pm

    Ah Ms Tiffin, I suspect The Bonk may outdo the spurtle for comments this month. Happy memories of our Bonk…still going strong, maybe because it isn’t much used these days.
    So glad you like the pineapple plate. And I love the look of the passionfruit, especially the crinkly ones which are usually the sweetest.
    Wracking my brains for a ‘B’ post…I’m sure I can come up with something.

    • Fiona Ryan July 3, 2015, 4:55 pm

      The only pity is we couldn’t go back the next week for another haul. I hope others that have been staying there have been picking them rather than leaving them to dry out.

  • Jennifer @ Milk and Honey July 1, 2015, 8:49 pm

    There’s nothing like the flavour of passionfruit. It grows like a weed at my place. I think the pineapple is such a pretty fruit. Love that plate.

    • Fiona Ryan July 3, 2015, 4:54 pm

      I dream of passionfruit weeds. I suppose it’s like mangos. When they are always there, you get a bit sick and tired of them. Yes, the plate is lovely.

  • SeattleDee July 1, 2015, 11:25 pm

    LOVE the pineapple plate, an amazing decorative element complete with a history lesson.

    • Fiona Ryan July 3, 2015, 4:53 pm

      Thanks very much. Now you know why there’s those pineapples on the gate posts of posh houses. Thanks for taking the time to comment. xxx

  • Liz (Good Things) July 2, 2015, 1:17 am

    I think you could safely start a successful online business selling spurtles!!! xx

    • Fiona Ryan July 3, 2015, 4:51 pm

      Spurtles came up again the other day when I was talking on the radio. There was much merriment between The Bonk and spurtle : )

  • Amanda (@lambsearshoney) July 2, 2015, 10:12 am

    I do love your pineapple dish – very stylish. And I’ll be sharing the info about The Bonk to my friend who has just harvested her first crop of macadamias. I don’t think she knows just how hard they are to crack.

    • Fiona Ryan July 3, 2015, 4:52 pm

      The pineapple dish is very luxe and understated. Not really like me at all!

  • EllaDee July 2, 2015, 4:05 pm

    I’m filing away “great when you are baking a large dish in the oven and just want to squeeze in a small side dish too” as my reason for buying another dish… so simple… why didn’t I think of it.
    I can imagine the look on the G.O.’s face when I offer him a Bonk… with a bag of unshelled macadamias… he wouldn’t be impressed, as he loves macadamias as an easy snack ( and healthy which gets my tick) but it would be a great idea for my Dad who shows no restraint consuming far too many macadamias then claims THEY made him feel ill!

    • Fiona Ryan July 3, 2015, 4:50 pm

      My Husband is a fiend for the macadamias so he has to work for them. What’s your dad like? Talk about cheeky!

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime July 2, 2015, 5:06 pm

    I miss having passionfruit so readily available for picking! Great share this month 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan July 3, 2015, 4:49 pm

      And I love my passionfruit so this was a great haul!

  • Vicki @ Boiled Eggs & Soldiers July 3, 2015, 10:46 pm

    I somehow missed your IMK last month as I would have had something to say about the spurtle too, I have one! I’ve never used it though. I love your pineapple plate, I have a “thing” for them. The Bonk, ha! I’ve haven’t seen one of those!

    • Fiona Ryan July 7, 2015, 11:03 am

      I think I am skyrocketing sales of The Bonk single handed. I actually have a few pineapple plates so maybe once they are all unpacked, I’ll do a post.

  • Tania | My Kitchen Stories July 4, 2015, 1:48 pm

    Every one needs a BONK at one stage or another. i used to have one at some point but seem to have lost it. I love the explanation of pineapple in history. A very interesting thing. I wish I had a passionfruit vine, one day……

    • Fiona Ryan July 7, 2015, 11:05 am

      We had a passionfruit vine that flowered profusely but they never set. I’m going to have another go in spring.

  • Kirsty July 5, 2015, 5:30 pm

    Hi there Fiona. Snap on the BONK!! From my haul of macadamia’s from a recent Qld trip, I scoured gumtree for nutcrackers, and lo and behold a chap was selling 4 x different nutcrackers, including the infamous BONK – the one that I wanted! Score! Hubby has been cracking the macca’s and I’ve been breaking apart walnuts. Happy nutcracking to you. Cheers Kirsty

    • Fiona Ryan July 7, 2015, 11:11 am

      *clonk* (I think that’s the sound of macdamias toasting each other)

  • Sandra July 5, 2015, 6:42 pm

    During Brisbane’s Good Food Month last year there was an amazing display at GOMA of pineapples as a domestic motif. Your wonderful plate would have been quite at home! I’ve had a haul of passionfruits in my kitchen too

  • Jan (A gluttonous wife) July 6, 2015, 12:38 pm

    I adore passionfruit and must get myself a big bowl full just like yours!! That bonk looks just what my hubby would love….(I’m being cheeky but yes he loves nuts :)) Jan x

  • Joanne T Ferguson July 6, 2015, 7:35 pm

    I LOVE your Aussie B.O.N.K Fiona and who would comment on your spurtle! lol
    While not a big fan of passionfruit, I did love your pineapple plate!
    Thanks for this month’s kitchen view!

  • Kari @ bite-sized thoughts July 7, 2015, 3:48 am

    Oh gosh, I can’t stop giggling at the nutcracker Bonk! I must have the maturity of a teenager because I find it both suggestive and hilarious 😀

  • moya July 7, 2015, 5:38 pm

    Love passion fruit but it’s so expensive here. Your nut cracker has an interesting name… I have a wooden one (not quite the same) but I don’t remember it being called a Bonk 🙂

  • Johanna @ Green Gourmet Giraffe July 7, 2015, 8:06 pm

    That pineapple dish is your standout photo this month – it is gorgeous and I love the story that comes with it – imagine renting a pineapple! I love your photo of the bonk – you say you got it 20 years ago – does that mean you still have the card that came with it? It sounds great – I love my nut cracker but haven’t tried it with macadamias.

  • Emily (Cooking for Kishore) July 13, 2015, 5:08 am

    Hi Fiona! Great background info on the pineapples, and the passionfruit look delicious! The Bonk would have been helpful a couple of months back when I used a hand cracker on albs of mixed nuts, haha. Looking for to joining up with the A-Z this month!

    • Fiona Ryan July 17, 2015, 2:54 pm

      Well the BONK has been a hit and such a simple idea. Looking forward to seeing what you do for ‘B’.

  • Sandy July 13, 2015, 7:35 am

    I jealous you can get varieties of dried mushrooms, I struggle to get them over here. That nut cracker looks fabulous, and looks like it would make short work of even the hardest nut. I love baking with hazelnuts but I don’t love cracking all the nuts. Thanks for the look around your kitchen. Sandy

    • Fiona Ryan July 17, 2015, 2:53 pm

      We are very lucky when it comes to Asian ingredients – plenty on offer and most at the local supermarket. Not many hazelnuts in Australia so most come pre-shelled. I’m actually hoping to make a dessert with hazelnuts this weekend. Thanks for visiting Sandy.

  • Lisa July 13, 2015, 7:42 am

    Because I have an immature sense of humour, I had a little giggle at the name of the BONK 🙂 Then I giggled again because I remember sitting with a hammer and a pile of macadamia nuts when I was little and putting chips and cracks all over my parents garage!

    Love the pineapple history, and your bowl of passionfruit. My vine is loaded at the moment. It took forever to flower, ages to get some to set and it feels like it’s been months to get the fruit to ripen. I’m sure it needs *something* but it’s teaching me a heck of a lot of patience in the meantime!

    • Fiona Ryan July 16, 2015, 5:53 pm

      Yes, the concrete in the garage, a hammer and a few sore toes. That’s an Australian childhood : ) My passionfruit didn’t set so I’ll have to have another go over the summer.

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