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In My Kitchen… April 2016

What a time it’s been. After a log period of renovating, we went on a short holiday to Bali to recharge the batteries. Whilst we were re-charging, the batteries in our smoke alarms were going flat. We returned home at 3am on a Friday morning to find the alarms chirping. Who doesn’t love to be up a 12 foot ladder after 10 hrs in transit to change batteries? But why had the batteries expired? Because in my April kitchen….

….rather unfortunately, our 10 month old freezer had a fault and tripped the power in the house. This meant that we had been without power for 6 days. What this also meant was that all the food in the freezer and fridge freezer had spoiled. You can imagine the smell and how thrilled I was about it all. Goodbye homemade meals, goodbye parmesan rinds stored for parmesan oil, goodbye home baking, goodbye hand picked walnuts, goodbye Easter roast. Certainly a first world problem but as cooks, I know you know how frustrating this was and still is. I thought I was coming home to a week of cooking and relaxation but instead I came back to a week of throwing away food, cleaning, re-cleaning and triple cleaning, dealing with freezer manufacturers and insurance companies, making lists and generally wasting all my quality holiday time on the stupid freezer. I tore a calf muscle lifting food into the car to the take to the dump which has also impeded me. It must be just one of those months. Moving on…


In my kitchen

Two yellow skinned guavas - one cut in half to reveal pink interior

…were these two guavas that I plucked off a tree at my bus stop. The tree is in a yard however they don’t eat the fruit, letting it fall to the ground. I love guavas and always order guava juice when we travel to tropical locations. You can eat the skin though these were a little tough so I just scooped out the flesh with a teaspoon. These were the only two I was able to reach but I hope I can snag a few more before they all disappear to the possums.


In my kitchen…

A tray of sliced cherry and egg tomatoes

…were tomatoes, just about to go into the oven to be slow roasted. This was a punnet of cherry, grape and kumatos that were marked down by 50%. The finished tomatoes went into some salads and this Slow Roasted Tomato & Quark Tart that I make on a regular basis.

Slow Roasted Tomato & Quark Tart


In my kitchen…

Caramel Fig & Pear loaf sliced, sitting on a cake cooler

Pumpkin & Feta Scones with a Scone Cutter

….is some baking. My stockpile of frozen baked good also needed to be thrown out so I had to start again. I recently made fig and pear muffins for our neighbours as a thank you gift for their patience during our renovation. I doubled the mixture and baked a loaf as well. I also made some pumpkin & feta scones so we have something to drop into packed lunches or to enjoy with lunch time soups on weekend. Recipe soon.


In my kitchen…

A clue and white cardboard box of calamarata pasta

…is a box of Calamarata pasta. This of course refers to the shape of the pasta which resembles calamari rings. I looked up Benedetto Cavalieri and found out that they manufacture in the relatively small town of Maglie in the Apulia region of Italy (the heel of the boot). It’s quite an interesting website with information about the manufacturing process and their beloved founder, Benedetto. It is still a family run business with strong ties to the Slow Food Movement which, of course, started in Italy. Though I don’t mind pasta, I wouldn’t say it’s in my top 10 so we don’t eat a lot of it. This and another box of penne came as part of a gift hamper and makes a nice change. I love the blue & white packaging.


In my kitchen…

Baking eqipment - a large cookie tray and a banneton basket for proving bread

…is a new extra large baking sheet and banneton. I love the baking sheet (though I have not baked on it yet) as it is flat on one side. It is perfect for making pizzas or sourdough on and then sliding directly onto the hot pizza stone in the oven. The banneton needs more practice. I can usually get most of the bread out but there is always a part that sticks. I have found a little video that indicates I am doing it correctly so maybe it’s the humid air in Brisbane which means I just need to set my tongue right when I tip the loaf out. I know I will get the hang of it eventually and in the mean time, it assists in regular shaped loaves.


In my kitchen…

Bays Leaves and highly patterened Moroccan Pottery in green and pink

…are lots of fresh bay leaves. I have a potted bay tree that was unloved and neglected during the renovation. It needed to be pruned back quite hard so I ended up with a lot of smaller leaves in addition to the larger leaves. They are sitting on top of my microwave with four lovely little Moroccan tagine lids that had their bases broken on our return from the UK. The lids now serve no practical purpose but they are too pretty to throw out. You can also see my Moroccan style wallpaper that I installed behind our glass splashback. The builder and the kitchen guy said it couldn’t be done but of course, I did it and it looks great. We have moved the bay tree pot back into full sunlight and given it a good dose of worm tea so it won’t know itself. It shouldn’t be too long before it bounces back and adds a Roman charm to the courtyard.

Finally, on what has been a somewhat challenging couple of weeks, a good laugh. I have discovered (well, not discovered as they have 92k followers on Twitter) a fantastic website. Sick of your food arriving on a piece of slate? Over mushroom soup in served in demitasse? This is the website for you: We Want Plates

And that my friends, is what is happening In My Kitchen this month. Maureen from The Orgasmic Chef continues to host this excellent get together of cooks from all over the world. If you are a blogger, why not take the plunge and join us? There are no rules as such, just a snapshot of what is happening in your kitchen.

20 comments… add one
  • Mandy April 1, 2016, 5:47 pm

    Oh, I would love to be in our kitchen with all that flavour packed deliciousness.
    Have a super weekend.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  • Glenda April 2, 2016, 3:04 am

    Hi Fiona. I too have a fridge story. As you know, we live between two houses and both freezers are chockers with food. Our fridge in Perth was clicking every few seconds. I looked on the internet and found out what could be wrong. The verdict was the coil at the back of the fridge needed cleaning or the compressor was going. I cleaned the coil but was really, really nervous because I didn’t want to come back to Perth with what faced you. So we bought a new fridge and put all the meat in the new freezer. When we came back to Perth yesterday both new and old fridge were going strong. It looks like it was the dirty coil which was causing the fridge to overheat. Now I have two (three really) fridges in Perth.

    • Fiona Ryan April 2, 2016, 11:08 am

      I’m just glad you didn’t have to go through what I did Glenda!

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime April 2, 2016, 3:40 pm

    I can relate to losing freezer contents. Mine were lobster and home made treats. I could cry for you at the waste and frustration. Love all your fresh goodies this month 😀

    • Fiona Ryan April 2, 2016, 7:22 pm

      Lobsters – that would be just too much to bear. I must write about the Fig & Pear loaf as it’s divine!

  • Liz Posmyk (Good Things) April 3, 2016, 8:57 am

    Boo, I hope you have a good insurer to cover the food spoilage? Love the little tagines… so pretty.

    • Fiona Ryan April 3, 2016, 12:04 pm

      We think the freezer company will cover the food spoilage. That’s what they have indicated but they may have other ideas when they see the bill! Maybe one day I’ll go back and be able to get some bottoms at a cut price rate!

  • Sherry m April 3, 2016, 10:05 pm

    What a bugger about your power going off. Must have been heartbreaking and hard work to fix up. That pasta is a cute shape even tho I am not a pasta fan. Cute little tomatoes too.

    • Fiona Ryan April 5, 2016, 8:15 am

      We got quite lot of goodies in a hamper when we bought our ovens though I’ve never eaten so much pasta in my life! The saga of the freezer continues – repairman coming again today. Not happy!

  • Sherry m April 3, 2016, 10:06 pm

    I checked out we want plates. Hubby and I have been saying this for ages !!!!

    • Fiona Ryan April 5, 2016, 8:15 am

      It’s hilarious. How about that gumboot as a wine cooler?!

  • Mel @ The cook's notebook April 9, 2016, 3:17 am

    My freezer dying while I’m away is a huge fear of mine! Such a sad waste. I’m going to pop over when I get home and check out your reno, and pinch a few bay leaves. Good luck with the bread baking – I’ve given up trying to bake my own as I eat it so rarely.

    • Fiona Ryan April 9, 2016, 2:37 pm

      And if you can believe it, the freezer tripped a 2nd time last weekend. The part they used was also faulty. Not Happy! Seems to be fixed now. Yes, certainly come over and bay leave and rosemary are ALWAYS available. I’ve had a few challenges so the unpack has taken longer than expected but guests are always welcome. I hope you’re enjoying your trip.

  • Lisa April 11, 2016, 7:48 pm

    Oh the freezer is heartbreaking! I don’t even want to imagine the smell. What a terrible thing to come home to… although I suppose on a positive note you get all the fun of filling it again, right?

    Those tagine lids are beautiful, as is the fresh bay leaf decoration. Perhaps I should attempt to grow a bay tree, it can only come in useful.

    I can’t wait for the loaf and scone recipes. I could imagine both of those in my belly all too easily! x

    • Fiona Ryan April 12, 2016, 10:00 pm

      The bay tree takes no effort. I just sits in a large pot – don’t plant it or it will become gigantic. The freezer saga continues so thee is still slim pickings at present.

  • Gretchen April 11, 2016, 9:32 pm

    What a loss. I’ve been through that before and it’s so upsetting to see not only the waste of food but all your hard work from homemade goodies ruined. There is. I way to value the time and energy out into stocking a freezer with your favorite homemade foods. The tomato and quark tart looks delicious. I recently got the same banneton and recently had success getting the whole loaf out. Our climate is also humid, not sure if it took a few times to condition it or what, just glad it’s working well now.

    • Fiona Ryan April 12, 2016, 10:02 pm

      Our climates is very humid too. I think, as you say, it needs conditioning. The impost on my time in relation to the freezer has been enormous and very draining.

  • Miss Food Fairy April 30, 2016, 9:19 am

    How are you feeling now Fiona? Hope your calf has healed up and you’re back running around the kitchen 😉 I’m so sorry about the loss of all your food – I had that happen last year while I was at my sisters, looking after my nephews. My husband accidentally turned off the powerpoint to our 2nd fridge – all food prepped for Grand Prix party, gone! I don’t even think its about cost, it’s about the time & love we put into those dishes! Oh well, there’s nothing you can do except cry, get upset & start all over again! I just love your bay leaves and hope it thrives for you very soon . Love the goodies in your kitchen this month, see you soon xx

    • Fiona Ryan May 3, 2016, 11:34 am

      Hi Nicole – my calf has healed nicely thanks. Yes, it’s the time and heartbreak. I have submitted a claim to the freezer company (a huge NZ multinational) but have yet to hear back. It’s on my list for this week.

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