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In My Kitchen… December 2018

What a month I’ve had! My website was hijacked by hackers who did their darndest to lock me out. Thankfully, I had the assistance of a very good developer who was able to get on top of things and put further protections in place. Of course, it had to happen only three days before I was heading overseas! Anyway, the blog is back in action and I’m back from Thailand. I haven’t even had time to go grocery shopping yet but, there are still things to share.

rice paper latern being relased into night sky in Chiang Mai

One of the reason’s we visited Thailand was to attend the Yi Peng Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai. What a memorable night. Loud, noisy and exhilarating! Though crowded, there were many areas to view the lanterns at a more sedate distance. We went to the free local government (official) celebrations, not the paid commercial events that are held outside the city. Here’s a short video of just some of the lanterns being released. I’d recommend it to anyone.

In my November kitchen…

brightly coloured 4 tier tiffin box

…there is a new Tiffin! I don’t buy much in the way of souvenirs but when I saw this enamel Tiffin at the Saturday Walking Market in Chiang Mai, Mr Tiffin insisted that I treat myself. Tiffins are not a Thai implement and I suspect this has actually come by way of China, but I do really like it. It was the most expensive thing be bought/paid for on our entire holiday, costing 280 Baht. That’s around $12 AUD.


In my kitchen…

plastic bag of taro lollies

…is a bag of taro flavoured sweets. A last minute purchase at the supermarket (18 Baht / 75c). They were either going to be delicious or spectacularly horrible. I am happy to report, they are delicious. Chewy and slightly creamy like a ‘Milkshake’ or ‘White Rabbit’ lolly with a faint taste of something akin to pandan. I guess it’s what taro must taste like. That, and a lot of sugar. Anyway, now I know that they are yummy, they won’t last long at all!


In my kitchen…

group of slim eggplants piled together on sandstone

…are eggplants. So many eggplants. We came home from Europe in September to a large crop and have returned from 12 days away to another bumper crop. I made a delicious warm Middle Eastern Eggplant Salad with the first batch (recipe here)

bowl of eggplant pieces with tahini sauce and mint scattered on top

and am quick pickling the second batch for a quick Melanzane Sotto Aceto e Olio

jar of sliced and pickled eggplant

Quick Pickled Eggplant

I love eggplant pickled this way as it’s pleasingly chewy and great on an antipasti plate. I think though, there are yet more eggplants on the way!


In my kitchen, the new Tiffin holds a surprise…

brightly coloured 4 tier tiffin box with top layer open

…with some of the plastic waste we carried back with us from Thailand. Travelling means trying new tastes, some convenience foods and (in Thailand at least), buying water. This results in lots of waste.

We decided to bring back all of our soft plastic and paper waste from our 12 day trip. This included chopstick covers, muesli bar wrappers, plane and rail tickets, receipts, cocktail swizzle sticks, a cereal box, the lid of an ice cream tub, toothpick wrappers and much more. We couldn’t bring the water bottles home but we did bring back all of the lids and bottle tops.

soft plastic waste from a holiday in Thailand

The lid and peel off top from these curious sweet potato chips also travelled back with us.


All of this soft and hard plastic and paper will be composted or recycled.


In my kitchen…

bag of dried butterfly pea flowers

…there is a bag of butterfly pea flowers. The butterfly pea grows wild throughout Asia, including the laneway where our apartment was located.

butterfly pea plant with purple butterfly pea flowers and leaves

Once dried, the flowers are often used in teas and tisanes. The flowers don’t taste much of anything but give liquid a wonderful indigo hue. In Australia, Ink Gin, made in northern NSW, is prettily coloured with butterfly pea flowers. I believe this is a favourite of our host, Sherry. The dried flowers do have a neat trick though – when mixed with an acid such as lemon, the deep indigo transforms into a vibrant violet colour. A great trick for cocktails.

We are having a very low key Christmas, taking time to visit the Apple Isle. Hopefully we will see the boats come in to Hobart as part of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. We are also going to a long lunch at Fat Pig. Thanks to Sherry from Sherry’s Picking for hosting IMK and for the joie de vivre of her blog and in sharing her own bite sized adventures.

20 comments… add one
  • Dr Lyn Riddett December 1, 2018, 4:29 pm

    Thank you foor this, Tiffin. I hope Tasmania is a blast!

  • Dr Lyn Riddett December 1, 2018, 4:30 pm

    OOPS! Funny little typo there – did you spot it?

  • Dr Lyn Riddett December 2, 2018, 12:04 pm

    Typo well-spotted!!!

    Lots of love, L.

  • sherry December 2, 2018, 2:29 pm

    thank you very much for the mention fiona. and yes you are right i do have a bottle of Ink gin – not much left now:) as you can see from my imk, i bought some christmas pudding gin this year. can’t wait to try it! i am fascinated and admiring of your efforts to bring back your plastic rubbish home to Oz. Truthfully i don’t think i would even have thought of it. good on you. thanks so much for joining in IMK. great to have you back. ooh yes hobart is wonderful at xmas time. i adore watching the boats come in from the big race. and of course taste of tassie is so fab. i am very envious of your long lunch at Fat Pig. have a wondrous time of it. cheers S x

    • Fiona Ryan December 4, 2018, 2:50 pm

      A taste of Tassie looks a little crowded to me – we’ll probably play it by ear. I saw your gin and meant to mention in the comments. It sounds very seasonal and I can imagine it being also drunk in some sort of hot toddy at the other end of the world.

  • Mae December 2, 2018, 9:53 pm

    Magic lanterns! Exotic pea flowers! Tiffin containers! Vacation recycling! — Your life is full of such imaginative and exceptional things. Thanks for the fun post.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    • Fiona Ryan December 4, 2018, 2:52 pm

      Mae – you make me laugh. You’re positivity for holiday rubbish is a giggle. Maybe you will do the same when you vacation somewhere in future. I hope to crate a video of the pea flowers colouring some liquid in the neat future.

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime December 3, 2018, 4:50 pm

    It is amazing how much waste we collect during 12 days. We recycle as much as we can, where ever we are. Love the colour of the butterfly pea flowers 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan December 4, 2018, 2:52 pm

      If I wasn’t so busy (going on holidays), I might have been organised enough to get a little demo video together of the butterfly peas. I’ll add it to my ‘to do’ list.

  • johanna @ green gourmet giraffe December 7, 2018, 9:11 pm

    I have seen that pea powder for dying food blue and I am quite intrigued – your recycling efforts are admirable – hope customs didn’t have to give them the once over or it would be interesting to see their reaction. And your tiffin containers are gorgeous colours

    • Fiona Ryan December 10, 2018, 11:54 am

      We cleaned all the recyclables so there was no food on them. As to the pea flowers – Customs gave them a cursory look but they were much more interested in the backpackers coming off our flight.

  • jrrose80 December 8, 2018, 6:37 pm

    Love the tiffin and that you are recycling all that waste. Those butterfly pea flowers must be what our local tea producer in Canberra uses for their tea trick iced tea – they tell you to add lemon juice to make it chance color. Merry Christmas!

    • Fiona Ryan December 10, 2018, 11:55 am

      I’m looking forward to making up some pea flower ice cubes as you can add them to sour drinks for the same effect. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. They are rarer than truffles these days!

  • Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons December 13, 2018, 11:22 am

    Your video is fantastic, I have always wondered what the lantern festival was like. And, very impressive and environmentally responsible you brought all that paper and plastic back. That eggplant salad and pickle looks delectable.

    • Fiona Ryan December 16, 2018, 4:03 pm

      The festival is well worth it. Like all things, it has become commercialised with huge mass lantern releases outside the city (that you pay up to $300 to attend!) but we just immersed ourselves in the local events and had wonderful, mad fun.

  • Kim Bultman December 19, 2018, 3:35 am

    Fiona, bravo for recycling your vacay trash. Your new Tiffin “worked a treat!” 🙂 I recycle trash, too — during non-snake season! (Once I grabbed a styrofoam cup out of the ditch and there was a baby copperhead in it… yikes.) We shall prevail — cautiously or conveniently. Loved your lantern launch re-cap, grilled eggplant salad recipe, and also the magical color-changing flowers. Happy Holidays! xo

    • Fiona Ryan January 7, 2019, 12:40 pm

      Eek! I can imagine that snake gave you a surprise. We are just back from Tasmania and this time it was just the lids as we could conveniently recycle the soft plastic. It’s a habit now.

  • shaheen December 20, 2018, 8:32 pm

    The eggplant dish looks really delicious. I must concur that your recycling efforts are admirable. I like the colours on your tiffin containers, I have two – but both are in black and I must confess I have hardly used them, next year hoping to make the most of them. Have a good festive holiday.

    • Fiona Ryan January 7, 2019, 12:35 pm

      I’ve come back from another Christmas holiday and there are yet more eggplants! I don’t use the Tiffins as, realistically, you can’t reheat in them (in the microwave) so they aren’t that helpful for work. They are fun to serve snacks from, when people come over.

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