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In My Kitchen (Gasp!)… October 2018

Hello world. What have you been up to?  It’s been a year of highs and lows, reflection and re-direction, culling and curating. As part of editing my life, I have had many conversations with myself about this blog, whether I wanted it to continue and if so, in what format. It’s certainly liberating, not thinking about blog content or taking photos but in the end, I just enjoy writing and sharing. So here I am, dipping my toe back in the blog world. I thought that In My Kitchen, hosted by Sherry from Sherry’s Pickings was a good opportunity to get re-acquainted. In my October kitchen…

…there is much going on. We have been on a long holiday and as is my habit, I ran down the pantry, fridge and freezer. It made for some quirky meals as the holiday drew closer. I’ve written before about how long it actually takes to run down a pantry. It takes many, many months when there are just two of you. Sauces, relishes and vinegars are the biggest culprits – the pantry has trimmed down but now that we are back, I did need to do some re-stocking.

So, in my kitchen…

Jar of Miso & Sauerkraut

…are items purchased at the recent Food Connect Shed Markets. A umami packed miso, kim chi and a deliciously piquant Mauritian Piment Limone relish from Rani’s Cuisine. Food Connect is a fabulous social enterprise that connects farmers (country cousins) to those of us living in suburbia (city cousins) via fresh produce delivery. The markets are held a couple of times a year and are a way for local makers to sell directly to the public. Food Connect are in the process of crowd funding to buy the building they are in, in Salisbury, a suburb of Brisbane. Perhaps you’ve seen Costa from Gardening Australia or Nick from Milkwood doing Facebook Live videos in support of this food revolution. The next market will be in October and then one near Christmas. It’s definitely worth a visit for unique ingredients and gifts and to support local makers. Visit Food Connect to read more.

In my kitchen…

bucket of rubbish for compost

…we have expanded our efforts in relation to composting. We already have a worm farm and compost bin, which deal with our fruit and vegetable waste. Since returning to Australia and catching up on season 2 of War on Waste, we are making inroads into reducing the paper and cardboard that goes into our recycling bin. No point in putting it in the bin if it’s just going to be stockpiled in a warehouse! All thin, non glossy paper and plain, unprinted cardboard is now torn up and given to the worms. In this lot is a toilet roll and wrapper from our Who Gives A Crap? toilet paper. It’s only a small change but an easy one to make.

In my kitchen…

colander of queensland strawberries

…there are strawberries, of course. We always enjoy local strawberries as we have family that live close to the farms around Wamuran and the Sunshine Coast. But since the contamination scare, we have eaten our bodyweight in them! Last week I made a version of jam slice with an added layer of sliced strawberries. It was very popular. The way I most enjoy strawberries though is hulled and quartered into a bowl with a splash of vincotto and a sprinkle of caster sugar. The vincotto and sugar macerate with the strawberries to create a sweet/tart syrup after 20 minutes or so. If you don’t have access to vincotto, good aged balsamic vinegar also works well. I serve the marinated strawberries and syrup on top of good vanilla ice cream. They are always a hit and can be made with a moment’s notice.

In my kitchen…

…we now buy our meat from a butcher that allows you to bring you’re own containers. I’ve shared a story with you in the past about Carina North Quality Meats, the great quality meat and excellent service they provide. As part on an ongoing conversation I’ve had with the owner Michael, he supports customers who wish to put meat into any container they bring.

Like most of you, I have a mountain of Tupperware and takeaway containers. Whilst we have significantly moved to a plastic free household over several years, there’s no point in tossing the containers you have. These chicken thighs were diced and marinated in a mix of Rani’s lemon and chilli relish and local honey. Threaded onto skewers and frozen, they are easy to defrost, barbecue and add to a salad for a quick weeknight dinner. Perfect for the long, hot summer that’s fast approaching.

Finally, in my kitchen…

jars of Queensland honey

…is honey. A lot of honey. We are lucky enough to have a beekeeper in the family. The hives, in Canungra, produce wonderfully sweet gum blossom honey. Even better, the honey is not heat-treated. I joke that my parents are in the Honey Mafia and have warned them about selling it at the local church, lest the roof fall in (sellers in the temple). People can’t get enough of it! All profits from the honey go to the Leukemia Foundation, a charity very near to our hearts. Anyway, we always have a lot of honey on hand, which is why it made its way into our chicken skewers.

Thanks to anyone who has asked after the blog over the last 12 months. Thanks also to anyone who has read to the bottom of this story. I hope to surprise you again soon with some stories of our recent travels. Here’s a taster xxx

Chateau de Chenonceau

Chateau de Chenonceau, France


42 comments… add one
  • Lyn Riddett October 2, 2018, 7:48 pm

    Welcome back!!!
    I am so glad you decided to keep blogging.
    Enjoyed this – of course.

    • Fiona Ryan October 3, 2018, 11:53 am

      Thanks Aunty Lyn – I’ve been wanting to write again for a while and have been doing some drafts but I just needed the time to get things up and running again. xxx

  • Susan Nisbet-Smith October 2, 2018, 8:07 pm

    Glad to see you back!

    • Fiona Ryan October 3, 2018, 11:52 am

      Thanks Susan. I saw the kids on FB a week or so ago. So big! Hasn’t that time flown?

  • Sam October 2, 2018, 8:23 pm

    Good to have you back. X

  • Maria Valastro October 2, 2018, 8:41 pm

    So glad you’re back! Love reading this blog! And back from your travels….catch up with you soon.

    • Fiona Ryan October 3, 2018, 11:50 am

      Hi Maria – glad to be back. See you in real life soon xxx

  • Moya October 2, 2018, 9:52 pm

    Welcome back… I too have pondered over pressing the delete button. But I guess in the end, blogging is my small creative outlet which I enjoy. Pure honey is a rarity these days and wonderful you’re donating the profits to a good cause.

    • Fiona Ryan October 3, 2018, 11:50 am

      Hi Moya – as I was just saying to Kim, if you press the button, you lose a record of your day to day life. Blogs have become like a diary of what’s happening around us. Stick with us and keep blogging! xxx

  • Adele October 2, 2018, 10:11 pm

    Great to have you back. Looking forward to the travel stories; France is wonderful.

    • Fiona Ryan October 3, 2018, 11:49 am

      Thanks Adele – I can’t tell you what a scorcher it was though. No respite for weeks. But holidays are what you make of them and luckily, there was plenty of wine and cheese to ease our turmoil!

  • Kim | a little lunch October 3, 2018, 8:00 am

    Hi, Fiona! I’m tickled to see you again, xo. This past year’s events threw me for a loop, too, and made me wonder if blogging was worth continuing after my many unplanned absences (!), but I’m with Moya — it’s my creative outlet. If I don’t do this for myself — even if it’s only IMK once a month — I’ll disappear. Loved your reference to sellers in the temple 🙂 and also that “eat/shop local” sign. No matter how small or insignificant you may feel, your thoughts matter to me and many others. Keep on keepin’ on, kiddo!

    • Fiona Ryan October 3, 2018, 11:47 am

      What wonderful words to read Kim. Thank you. One thing I did think about was the blog is a record of day to day life, holidays, thoughts and dreams. If I stopped it, I would have lost a record of all that. Anyway, I’m back and full of vim and vigour. Thanks again for your lovely words. xxx

      • Kim | a little lunch October 5, 2018, 12:54 am

        Yay for vim and vigor, Fiona! I was in short supply of those, too — plus things to write about other than care-taking. But, that chapter in my life is over and I can finally get back to my “dreams.” I was glad you mentioned your blog held a record of yours (as well as day to day life, etc.) — precious stuff. I took a look back at mine and discovered a few unfulfilled dreams lurking between the lines! 🙂 Here’s to our blogging futures… xo.

  • sherry October 3, 2018, 10:30 am

    ooh fiona
    very excited to see you here. my little heart is going pitty-pat. (truly). No, really it’s so fab to see you here again. Talk about culling – i finally threw out a tub of kimchi that my vegan friend left here 3.5 months ago. OMG when i opened it… how wonderful to have real honey! Good on you for supporting the strawb farmers tho cynically i wonder …. it made for great sales, the whole needle thing. i saw the other day that Woolies has cardboard trays that you can use for packing your groceries. mmm reminds me of my youth when the shops always had cardboxes around. cheers and have a great october sherry

    • Fiona Ryan October 3, 2018, 11:45 am

      I feel a bit like Kaiser Soze – here one minute and then *poof*, I was gone. Except, unlike the Kaiser, I am back again. I think that the needle scare (and stupid copycats) was real but I don’t deny that it’s been a bumper season for them as a result. There was some gouging at the farms but I can get then for around $7 a kg so it’s win win.

  • Pamela Hayward October 3, 2018, 11:38 am

    Great to have tou back on board. Have always enjoyed your blog and travel tales

    • Fiona Ryan October 3, 2018, 11:42 am

      Thanks Pamela. I feel that I am ready to write again.

  • Jan Rhoades October 3, 2018, 12:37 pm

    Lovely to see you back on the airwaves. Good stuff as usual

    • Fiona Ryan October 3, 2018, 12:51 pm

      Thanks. It was either do a blog post or do the ironing!

  • Lisa October 3, 2018, 8:00 pm

    Welcome back! Lovely to see your post pop up on my feed. I’ve been loving the strawberries lately too but can’t help but feel cynical when the price jumped up to $3 a punnet at the big 2 grocery shops yet today at the farmers markets they were offering me 2kg of them for less than $10!
    That miso and kimchi look amazing. Must try to make the next Food Connect market…

    • Fiona Ryan October 24, 2018, 8:10 pm

      Definitely get on to the Food Connect markets when you can. They are having a few before the end of the year. The Miso is truly amazing. I don’t think I’ll ever buy commercial Miso again!

  • Gretchen Bernet-Ward October 3, 2018, 8:20 pm

    Hi Fiona. So excited to find your blog – and quite by accident coinciding with your return! I was searching for info on Empire Theatre in Toowoomba and your lovely art deco images popped up. If I may, I would like to add your blog link (no images) to my Bill Bailey post. He’s performing there mid October. Also, my family has also undergone a kitchen revolution and use a Bokashi bucket and compost bin. We are into reducing and recycling, even wearing slow clothing. Sorry to gush but it’s so refreshing to read a Queensland post. Bye, Gretchen.

    • Fiona Ryan October 4, 2018, 5:33 pm

      Hi Getchen – I love your enthusiasm. You’re definitely welcome to link to the Empire Theatre post. I love Bill Bailey but we can’t go this time round as we will be away. My favourite enduring memory is in Black Books when Manny plays the piano from underneath, striking the strings with spoons. I rarely see the inside of a clothes shop these days, unless it’s for work items and even then, I try to go second hand. I take my old clothes with me when we travel overseas, wear them and then leave them freshly laundered in the room. Most times the staff are very happy to re-purpose them. I have some posts queued up in the coming months around conscious consumption and reducing your footprint so perhaps you’d like to subscribe or follow on Facebook so you don’t miss them. cheers Fiona xxx

  • Shannan October 4, 2018, 1:20 pm

    Yay! Ive been waiting for this day. A great read and great to see you back.

    • Fiona Ryan October 4, 2018, 5:33 pm

      Hello. I know you enjoy the IMKs so I thought of you as I pressed the publish button.

  • johanna @ green gourmet giraffe October 6, 2018, 9:11 pm

    Lovely to read one of your IMK posts – they are always entertaining so am pleased you happened to post one when I have had time to actually read some IMK posts. We were getting some wonderful strawberries at our local farmers markets but they are waiting for the next season to start and I so I have some from the supermarket but am waiting for the farmers to bring them back to the market. I have had a worm farm for about a year and am still learning about it but I think having a compost and worm farm would help balance the scraps – the War on Waste series is depressing but it does make you think and act differently. Your french photograph is really beautiful!

    • Fiona Ryan October 17, 2018, 10:34 am

      Hi Johanna – long time no see. We have a ‘compost’ up the back which is just an overturned large plastic garbage bin with a hole cutting the bottom and the lid placed on top. There are also a few air slits. We don’t manage or stir it (or add soil for use on the garden) but it rots down nonetheless. In 17 years, it’s never been full to the top. We use it for watermelon skins (too tough for the worms), onions and citrus. I hope to find a 2nd worm farm on the footpath during Council Cleanup.

  • Debra Eliotseats October 7, 2018, 11:12 pm

    You are an inspiration with your local mindset! That the butcher lets you bring your own containers is an amazing (and simple) idea. That’s one thing I love about IMK, learning new things and techniques and ideas!

    • Fiona Ryan October 17, 2018, 10:31 am

      Thanks Debra! It does take a leap of faith but if you don’t succeed in one shop, try in another. My other suggestion is to bring paper bags to the supermarket to put your produce in. It’s no different to putting your mushrooms in them. The checkout operator just needs to look inside!

  • Mae October 8, 2018, 4:13 am

    You mentioned how long it takes to run down one’s pantry and freezer supplies. The shocking thing about it to me is that so many things have years and years of shelf life, usually even longer than the printed date on the packaging. Some canned goods apparently change slowly as they age, but are good for decades. Makes you wonder!

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    • Fiona Ryan October 17, 2018, 10:29 am

      So true Mae. I only use shelf life as a guide. These days, products are so well manufactured and packaged, there is very little danger of food taint or them going bad. The biggest issue we have in Queensland is Indian Meal Moth. They love the humid conditions. They can get into anything and actually arrive in the house as eggs in the boxes of dried food. I have taken to double bagging or bagging and then putting in a cannister all of my dry goods + moth traps. I also use bay leaves in the containers. A lot of effort but better than wasting the food. I don’t remember them being a problem 10 or 15 years ago but now they are regular visitors.

  • Amanda October 9, 2018, 8:11 am

    It’s nice to see you back! I’ve been contemplating similar issues myself of late, but don’t get past the fact that I do love to share – plus it’s a way to keep up my writing.
    It seems ages since I’ve done the In My Kitchen posts – they are always a bit of fun.
    I’m hoping to have lots of honey in my kitchen soon – from my own bees, as I’ve just obtained a hive!

  • Liz October 9, 2018, 10:53 am

    Welcome back Fiona, I was so happy to see your post. I think many of us have taken a vacation this year. But you are so right, it is a chronicle of our lives. I am impressed that you cleaned out your pantry and are making a clean start. It’s definitely something we should all do, I have found a badly out of date product many times. Sigh.
    I hadn’t heard about the strawberry scare and had to ask Google for more details, how awful!

    • Fiona Ryan October 24, 2018, 8:19 pm

      Out of date but never out of fashion… Nothing has been resolved and no one charged about the strawberry tampering and now the season is nearly done as it’s getting too hot. The country really rallied behind the growers though so hopefully they can bounce back.

  • The Napoli Alert October 9, 2018, 2:02 pm

    I think we all go through ups and downs with our blogs. Sometimes I am bursting to write and tell a story of sorts, and then other times I just don’t feel like it for weeks. But welcome back!

    • Fiona Ryan October 17, 2018, 10:35 am

      It’s been a long break but I’m glad I’m back and am as happy as ever.

  • Tina M Culbertson October 16, 2018, 1:22 am

    It’s nice to make your acquaintance. I am new at IMK and it’s been great seeing what everyone posts. I am a big proponent of the zero waste and use non-disposable containers and recycle. Love the honey and I wish we had butchers that allowed us to bring in our own containers.

    (I am logged in with my book blog address but shared my IMK post on the food blog, Squirrel Head manor.)

    Tina in Florida

    • Fiona Ryan October 17, 2018, 9:55 am

      Hi Tina – thanks for taking the time to comment. It must be very difficult to support zero waste in the US. We have visited many times and have seen the unbelievable amounts of packaging and in particular plastic cutlery and styrofoam. Well done you! I have started a new page on my blog about reducing your footprint. At the moment, it is recipes but soon I will have some stories about Donating with Purpose and reducing plastic usage. I’ll also check out your blog. xxx

  • Francesca October 17, 2018, 5:20 pm

    Welcome back. Sometimes it’s important to step back and do a little editing. I know that feeling and these days only do a post when I really feel up to it and in the mood for writing. I agree- in the end it’s the writing that is the drawcard. Once you get over those stats and subscriber driven issues, and move back to the real reason for blogging, it is so refreshing. I’m glad you’ve expressed this so well- it’s helping me to redirect my own thoughts on the matter.
    Love your post- full of real and natural things. Well, maybe not Chenonceau, haha.

    • Fiona Ryan October 24, 2018, 8:22 pm

      Thanks Francesca. I’m still editing, paring back, re-thinking but feel I’m at a place where I can commit again. Oh my, Chenonceau really was spectacular!

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