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In My Kitchen… June 2016

Can it be? Has autumn arrived in Brisbane? Say it isn’t so! It may be winter in the rest of the country but we’re a little slow in this part of the world. Finally though, it is at least cool enough to have a blanket at night and contemplate some low, slow cooking. In My Kitchen is a regular round up by cooks from kitchens across the globe. Some join every month, others only once in a while. It’s hosted by Maureen from The Orgasmic Chef and you are welcome to join at any time.

In my June kitchen…

Plastic alphabet chocolate mould

…is this chocolate mould with the letters of the alphabet. I continue to gift, donate and sell items from our rooms and cupboards as part of a massive downsize, post renovation. Having said that, I can tell when a bargain is a bargain. This was in an op shop along with many other moulds that had obviously never been used. You can probably radio carbon date this as it was made in Australia – when did a piece of plastic last come off a production line in Australia? I’m not a master chocolatier like Celia but for the princely sum of $1, it seemed churlish not to buy it. A fun option to tailor cakes for morning teas and parties.


In my kitchen…

Antique silver spoon with engraving of name: Ernst & date: 09.05.15

…is this elegant spoon. In keeping with the theme ‘knowing a bargain when you see one’, I saw this and many others at a funny little shop that could have been a 2nd hand shop, a charity shop or may just have been someone’s front room. There was a pile of polished cutlery, most of it beautifully engraved with different initials, most likely European in origin and keenly priced at a few dollars each. The reason I bought this spoon is not because my name is Ernst but because when I turned the spoon over, it was engraved with the date 9.5.15. This spoon is over 100 years old and needed immediate rescuing from that shop and subsequent admiration from me. I’m guessing that perhaps this was a birth date or celebration of a baptism or even a bris. It has a deep and generous bowl and probably formed part of the family’s well used cutlery canteen. It’s unlikely Ernst is still with us but his memory lives on with this spoon.


In my kitchen…

Squares of baked, chewy chocolate slice topped with coconut

…is this old fashioned chocolate coconut slice. I made it as part of a series I have written called ‘It’s Fete Season’ and can’t get enough of it. Every bite is definitely a trip down memory lane. I froze half the batch so we have been enjoying it over a series of weekends for morning tea, whilst we work to get our yards back in order. They are pretty much scorched earth after a six month renovation and I’m amazed how much rubble and debris still needs to be cleared away. It never stops.


In my kitchen…

Decorative cardboard box of raw cane sugar

…is this absolutely splendid box of sugar. Unlike my vast salt collection, I have not branched out into sugar. This box was actually part of a hamper we received and, I love it. I’m an absolute sucker for great packaging and this box of sugar has it in spades. Not only is it bright and whimsical, but when you look inside, the sugar is sealed with a square of bright blue paper, stuck to the 4 sides. Peeling it off is a small pleasure in its own right. In the end, this is just rough cut cubes of raw cane sugar but I feel they should be kept for ‘good’ to prolong my enjoyment of this box.


In my kitchen…

container of whole sumac, a middle eastern spice

…is this unusual form of sumac. Unusual to me at least. I made a trip to my favourite Middle Eastern grocer to stock up on bits and pieces but they didn’t have any ground sumac, only whole. I use a lot of this lemony spice so didn’t want to leave empty handed. I was game. While the dried berries look quite hard, they are in fact brittle and easily ground. There is something very pleasing about how smooth they are with a little indentation in each one. I’m a convert.

Just some of the things entering and leaving my kitchen. Have you ever seen whole sumac before?

15 comments… add one
  • Pamela hayward May 31, 2016, 6:22 pm

    I have not seen whole sumac before. Interesting always to see instead of just the powder. What are some of you sumac recipes? I have some but rarely use it. And I am envious of the beautiful silver. Just lovely.
    Great post as always..

    • Fiona Ryan June 3, 2016, 6:49 pm

      A favourite is to combine sumac and zaatar and then dredge pieces of chicken in it (as a coating) and then bake in the oven. It isn’t the prettiest but so full of flavour. I also often sprinkle sumac on roast chicken before I cook it. I don’t do a lot of lamb but it lends itself well to a dry rub on lamb roast as well.

    • Fiona Ryan June 3, 2016, 6:50 pm

      And thanks for your generous works and ongoing support on the blog and my FB page.

  • Elizabeth May 31, 2016, 6:53 pm

    Yes it is nice to finally think about getting out some soup recipe and finally being able to turn the fan off at night… and sleep with the doona on 🙂
    Oh that spoon, it is so precious… and you were right to rescue it 🙂
    I hope you are well, trying to get back into the swing of things, life is just so busy 🙂
    Liz xx

    • Fiona Ryan June 3, 2016, 6:51 pm

      It’s a real struggle to de-clutter. Not really a struggle as I am quite mercenary about it then a lovely spoon slips under the radar. And this weekend is definitely soup weather!

  • Beck @ Goldenpudding May 31, 2016, 8:47 pm

    I love your bargains Fiona, especially that spoon! I have a couple of old silver spoons from op shops, and they are so sturdy compared to most modern cutlery! That sumac looks great too, I think I’ve only seen the ground before…

    • Fiona Ryan June 3, 2016, 6:53 pm

      I retrieved a hilarious late 1960’s floral stamped ‘made in Japan’ spoon from a pile of cutlery they were going to throw away at work. What a waste! A spoon is a spoon. It is now my work spoon and I smile when i think I saved it from land fill.

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime June 1, 2016, 1:58 pm

    I’ve never seen sumac in its whole form before. I had one of those alphabet moulds years ago. I wonder if someone reading your blog will know more about that spoon?

    • Fiona Ryan June 3, 2016, 6:54 pm

      I’m wondering is they just couldn’t be bothered grinding it! I will have to use the mould so I just don’t let it sit in a cupboard.

  • Glenda June 5, 2016, 1:51 am

    Hi Fiona, I have never seen whole sumac before, I am jel, jel. I love your spoon, I am so glad you bought it.

    • Fiona Ryan June 5, 2016, 5:18 pm

      I’ll probably never see it (whole sumac) again but based on the comments on this post, everyone will be looking out for it.

  • sherry from sherrys pickings June 14, 2016, 12:30 pm

    yep me too. i have never seen whole sumac. interesting. your comment about the shop looking like someone’s front room reminds me of being in Pennsylvania buying a Mennonite quilt literally from a Mennonite lady farmer’s lounge room. i have maple sugar in my pantry at the moment so it will be interesting to see how that goes. love the look of that choc slice. gulp i have to start decluttering soon. the house is being taken over by kitchen props and ingredients etc…

  • Ian September 17, 2016, 8:40 pm

    Do you think the berries could be grown if planted, or have the seeds been removed?

    • Fiona Ryan September 18, 2016, 12:38 pm

      No Ian, I don’t think so. They are dry and brittle and I can’t see any seeds. Since I wrote this post, I ground some up in the coffee grinder and the final result is just like normal ground sumac. I have stored the rest in the freezer for further use at a later date. Thanks for taking the time the time to leave a comment.

      • Ian September 19, 2016, 9:09 am

        Thanks Fiona, I am guessing they must be heat treated. The Rhus coriaria tree is probably being grown in Australia, but it seems to be very rare at the moment.

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