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In My Kitchen… April 2019

What a funny old month March was. An unrelenting heatwave, no sign of Easter on the horizon and a frizzled modem, which severely curtailed internet activities including blogging. Nonetheless, I was diligent in taking photos to share what’s been going on In My Kitchen.

In my April kitchen…

round grape schiacciataa bread baked with grapes and rosemary sprigs pressed in, sitting on a cooling rack

…was an Italian style grape schiacciata. They look like olives but trust me, they’re grapes. Traditionally made at the end of the grape harvest, it is an unusual combination of savoury and sweet. Sweet grapes and caramelised grape juice contrast with the flavour of rosemary, grassy olive oil and crunchy sea salt. I’ve made it a few times but it’s a work in progress. This isn’t my best effort as it didn’t bake as it should due to the high humidity. It’s delicious with goat or blue cheese or dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

In my kitchen…

washcloths made from woven agave fibre

…is this cleaning cloth, made from agave fibre. It comes from Mexico and is part of a social enterprise to provide employment and income to the local community. The cloth is hand made including beating the agave leaves into the fibre that is used to weave the cloth. It was a birthday gift from my friends Robert and Bronlynn. These cloths are very hard wearing and last forever. When they do finally start to come apart, you can compost them. They know me so well!

In my kitchen…

numerous purple passionfruit piled on a table

…are passionfruit. Lots and lots of passionfruit. They have been amazingly sweet this season so I’ve been buying half a dozen at the markets each week. This past weekend, we visited a friend who pressed another dozen or so on to me as his vine is going crazy and he can’t keep up with the plentiful fruit. Most of these will be frozen into cubes for future cocktails, fruit salad or to be added to my breakfast.

In my kitchen…

various plastic and paper bags filled with dry pantry goods

…we continue to make the move away, where possible, from new plastic packaging. We are very, very good recyclers but the amount of soft plastic that we return to the supermarket on a regular basis is very alarming. So, we’ve started to buy some of our dry goods from a bulk foods store. Though they should be cheaper, they are more expensive that the supermarket, but let’s face it, what’s a few extra dollars in a load of pantry items? As you can see, I re-use plastic bags we already have, for the replacement products. I also re-use paper bags that we have, rather than using the bags supplied at the shop. That’s why my black beans are in a chemist’s bag. Bulk tahini is a bonus as we use a lot of it.

In my kitchen…

composite image of tiny brown teff grains in a plastic bag and small white dish
Teff – these suckers are hard to crack…

…is some teff. Teff is a tiny, tiny grain that is a staple in sub-Saharan Africa. Protein rich, it is made into a porridge or ground into a flour. The Ethiopian pancake, injera, is made from fermented teff flour batter and is served at every meal. So what am I doing with teff? Good question. It was an ill conceived impulse purchase from Chemist Warehouse, of all places. I planned to grind it into a flour but… Fun Fact! Dried teff grains are like teflon. They are rock hard and no amount of grinding could break them down. So, I have gone with plan B, which is to add a handful to soups and stews. I made a chicken and vegetable soup on the weekend and am happy to report that once cooked, the tiny grains soften and contribute to slightly thickening the soup. There’ll be no stopping me this winter but it’s a lesson not to buy dry goods you don’t really need when you’re waiting in line for your flu shot!

In my kitchen…

images of a plae wooden bowl carved out of jacaranda wood

…is a beautiful hand turned bowl, made of jacaranda wood. I didn’t realise that jacaranda could be made into items. It’s unbelievably lightweight, almost like a balsa wood. It was a thoughtful gift from a friend who’s father has passed away. He was a keen craftsman and made many beautiful pieces. Trisha wanted me to have this piece as she knew I ‘d enjoy it. Thanks Trisha.

And with that, IMK is done for the month. It’s still two more weeks until be head to the Vintage Festival in the Barossa Valley and we can’t wait. So much good food and wine and, despite what I say every two years, plenty of purchases to share in an upcoming In My Kitchen.

Sherry’s Pickings is the host of In My Kitchen. Sherry has so many interesting items in her kitchen and in her life. A mad keen fan of quirky art work, visits to northern NSW, wooden spoons and books, her love of life spills over into her blog. Make sure you visit it.

16 comments… add one
  • Lyn Riddett April 6, 2019, 12:58 pm

    Love the Thurlby Farm cloths – will certainly follow that up! Thank you for perservering through humidity and tech failures!

    • Fiona Ryan April 7, 2019, 10:38 pm

      Today it’s dry and warm but the weather turns on a dime at present. We took the bread to a dinner and it was well received. I think I can do better though.

  • Mae Sander April 6, 2019, 9:54 pm

    Jacaranda trees are among my favorites. I also had no idea the wood could be worked into any useful form. People have told me that the trees are fragile and drop a lot of branches, but I guess that’s not an issue here. Unfortunately, we live far from jacaranda-growing territory, as well as very very far from any passionfruit. I’m jealous of you for that!

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    • Fiona Ryan April 7, 2019, 10:41 pm

      I think jacaranda are similar in composition to poinciana, both of which grow in abundance in Brisbane. I mention poinciana as we have a huge one in our yard and it recently dropped a large branch, as did a neighbour’s tree. The wood doesn’t appear to be strong but having said that, the tree is easily 60 years old.

  • sherry April 7, 2019, 1:08 pm

    thanks so much for the kind comments fiona. i have been feeling a bit down lately so it is nice to have a positive vibe coming at me. love the agave cloths. can you get them here? never heard of teff! we too are trying to cut down on plastic but boy it’s hard when the supermarkets keep shoving stuff in plastic!! Your jacaranda bowl is so beautiful. what lovely wood. the grape bread looks so very tasty too. have fun in the barossa. cheers and thanks for being part of IMK. cheers sherry

    • Fiona Ryan April 7, 2019, 10:43 pm

      I think the agave cloths were bought here in Brisbane. I’ll find out. Teff was going to be the next big thing after quinoa but I think it was overtaken by chia ; )

  • eliotthecat April 8, 2019, 9:26 pm

    Love the bowl. Those grapes do look like olives but that bread sounds fantastic. Envious of the passion fruit. I’m going to check out that agave fiber. Thanks!

  • Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons April 9, 2019, 5:10 am

    I would enjoy that bread with some fresh goat cheese, sounds delicious. And I like your idea about reusing bags, I have been struggling with similar issues but don’t want to use the plastic bags at the bulk section. That hand turned bowl is beautiful, how nice of your friend to think of you and gift it.

  • Lyn Riddett April 9, 2019, 9:18 am

    I checked out the Thurlby Herb Farm (WA) website and the agave cloths are on there – $11 each for the kitchen ones, there is also a face cloth made of agave fibre. I have found Thurlby Herb Farm a reliable online site: thurlbyherb.com.au/

    • Fiona Ryan April 9, 2019, 3:28 pm

      Ahhh… that makes sense as Rob & Bron went to Margaret River and Perth last year.

  • Tina April 11, 2019, 1:29 am

    I’ve never seen a jacaranda tree. Those bowls are wonderful!

  • johanna @ green gourmet giraffe April 11, 2019, 10:00 pm

    I’ve bought groceries in Chemist Warehouse when waiting for a prescription – will try and avoid the teff trap! I love your new clothes and am admiring of your working on the plastics – wish I could do more on that front – I have taken your advice on the worm farm though and chopping their food more – much appreciated!

    • Fiona Ryan April 13, 2019, 4:07 pm

      I went for a flu shot again the other day and made sure I stayed well away from the dry goods. I like to think every little change can slowly make a difference. Was happy to find large jars og tomato paste in Aldi the other day. A small amount of plastic around the neck to avoid spillage but so much better than plastic tubs. Step by step.

  • Kim Bultman April 12, 2019, 12:53 am

    Fiona, your schiacciata (hope I spelled that right) sounds delectable. Do you have a recipe? Googled it, but didn’t find one that included rosemary. Initially it looked like a cherry clafouti to me (with WAY less sugar) and I was fooled by this “olive look-alike” too. 🙂 Loved your dipper suggestions, too, plus I lean towards savoury more than sweet. Your wooden bowl is gorgeous — truly a handmade treasure. xo

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