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In My Kitchen… May 2019

Last month I wrote about how Easter was late and how hot the weather continued to be. Well Easter has been and gone and yet it’s still hot. The second month of autumn and it’s 27c in Brisbane today. It’s a fact of life that climate change is making a significant impact on our lives. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Barossa Valley in South Australia. During our biennial pilgrimage to the Vintage Festival, we talked with winemakers about their most recent vintage and the changes in climate in general. Yields were down by 60% this year, with much left on the vine as it was not worth picking. One of the casualties is our beloved Shiraz. Winemakers and viticulturists agree that there’s less than a dozen years of good Shiraz (Syrah) left in the Barossa. It’s just too hot. Other varieties such as Grenache have cemented themselves as the emerging flavour of the Barossa. The big companies have also started planting Shiraz in the cool climate of Tasmania, hoping to get some good commercial crops as the temperature starts to increase there too. And on that sombre note, let’s take a visit to see what’s In My Kitchen

I swore to our friends that when we visited the Barossa, no matter what, I would not bring back a jar or chutney, jam or relish and would eschew all forms of sauce. We still have so much from our Tassie trip at Christmas. Bold words, but I managed to stick to it.

In my May kitchen…

four bags of dried fruit and nut  containing pears, sultanas, almonds and broad beans sit on a table

…there are of course, still treats from the Barossa. I always look forward to visiting local producers Gully Gardens, just outside Angaston. Their currants are wonderful so I stock up for the next two years. This year we also bought dried pears, juicy sultanas that are not quite dark and not quite golden, smoked almonds and salted dried broad beans. Gully Gardens are a family owned business who use 100% Australian products, much of it from South Australia and the Riverina. Since the sale to foreign hands of Angas Park and the subsequent closure of its shop in Angaston, Gully Gardens is my ‘go to’ for Aussie dried fruit.

In my kitchen…

large glass with floral print beside a large plastic bottle of cherry juice

…are an op shop glass and a bottle of cherry juice. A few months ago, I broke my favourite large water glass. It bounced a couple of times on the tiled floor but didn’t make it for a third bounce. I drink a lot of water and have really been missing the larger size. It would have been easy to buy a new one but sticking to our commitment to buy secondhand when we can, I bought this largish glass for 20c at the op shop in Tanunda. It’s still not large enough but will do for now. The cherry juice was an impulse supermarket buy. We both love cherries and spotted this at Tanunda Foodland. It wasn’t cheap ($10 for a litre), nor was it from SA (it’s from Young – the cherry capital of Australia) but we agreed it would be an excellent addition to cocktails, so it came home with us.

In my kitchen…

large rockmelon with yellow skins cut in hald to reveal seeds and orange interior

…is this enormous ‘Orange Candy’ melon. I had never seen one before yesterday. It tastes exactly like a rockmelon, is half the size again and cost a lot less. We lugged it home and I did some research. The reason it tastes like a rockmelon is because it is a rockmelon, just a smooth skinned variety. Look out for these bright yellow melons, grown in North Queensland, in your local fruit shop. They’re sweet and juicy and in season now.

In my kitchen…

dozens of acorns spill out of paper bag onto table

…are these foraged acorns. South Australia’s climate allows oak trees to grow. From oaks, there are acorns. I collected these outside our accommodation in Tanunda. There’s quite a lot of work involved to process and leach out the tannins before they can be roasted, but I’m up for the challenge.

toasted wattle seeds in small jar with a black lid

Meanwhile, if you read my January IMK, you may recall the wattle seeds I collected from our holiday in Tasmania. I have now podded and roasted them, so they are ready to use in baked treats. You can read more about how I did this here.

In my kitchen…

three vegetable produce bags with drawstrings

…there are homemade produce bags. In keeping with our less plastic, zero waste efforts, I made these produce bags from old fabric and string we already had. The heart pattern bag is made from scraps from a top that was sewn for nightclubbing in the 90’s. They add a hint of glamour to fruit and vegetable shopping. These bags are tucked in our re-usable grocery bags and go with us to the markets and supermarkets. Now, I just need to keep working on the supermarkets to accept plastic containers for deli items.

In my kitchen…

large jar with black metal top filled with red quince pieces and CWA lable

…there is a jar of CWA Poached Quinces from the Zigenmarkt, held at Goat Square each year as part of the Vintage Festival. It is an important fundraiser for the local community. The ruby colour of the quinces is dazzling and will be delicious on ice cream. I said no jams or chutneys but said nothing about poached fruit!

In my kitchen…

block of chocolate in purple cardboard wrapper with gold writing

…the theme of the month is purple chocolate. A new chocolatier and cellar door has opened just outside Tanunda and boy! was that place jumping on Easter Monday. You can watch the chocolate being made as well as do a wine and chocolate matching experience. This block made it home and is Dark Chocolate with Caramelised Almonds.

two purple cardboard boxes with cut out morifs and purple ribbons tied on top

The sweet little cutout boxes filled with purple and silver Hershey’s Kisses are bonbonerie from a wedding we attended this weekend. After 15 years together and a legislative change, our friends Stuart and Trevor tied the knot. Let’s just say, a great time was had by all!

And on that note, it’s time to say leave mykitchen and swing past other blogger kitchens via Sherry’s Pickings. Sherry hosts In My Kitchen every month and you’re welcome to join with your own stories or take at look at what others have to share.

9 comments… add one
  • sherry May 7, 2019, 10:36 am

    ooh so many wonderful things in your kitchen. i’ve seen that cherry more and longed to try it. you must tell us how it is. boy the world is changing fast isn’t it? whenever we watch a tv show or doco set in the UK, we always ask each other why it’s so sunny? ‘Cos it’s so sunny! The quinces look fantastic as does the chocolate. i must look out for those new melons. great idea about taking bags into coles etc for veg. thanks heaps for joining in this month. have a good one. cheers sherry

  • Carole O'Connor May 7, 2019, 3:58 pm

    Fiona I’m very envious of your purchases, the little bags inspiring.

    • Fiona Ryan May 25, 2019, 9:26 am

      Thanks Carole – we use them all the time now. So easy to make!

  • Francesca May 9, 2019, 3:41 pm

    Hi Fiona, lovely post and great to read about your dedication to keeping our globe plastic free, foraging food, buying treasure in glass, as well as picking up good finds in op shops. I am often amazed at the amount of packaged stuff that people buy, and this often appears on IMK too. So it’s always refreshing to read a post from a like minded soul. The drought was truly heartbreaking this year, for wine grape growers and others working in primary industries. I didn’t know you could eat acorns? we collect them and give them to our cows as lollies- they love them, and oak leaves too. Best wishes.

    • Fiona Ryan May 25, 2019, 9:28 am

      Well I didn’t know cows could eat acorns! They are a lot of work to process as you need to leech out the tannins and then they are generally roasted and ground. It’s an ancient food fo the Native Americans. I’m sure I’ll only do it once but it’s not often I would have access to them so wanted to seize the moment.

  • johanna @ green gourmet giraffe May 9, 2019, 11:10 pm

    love your produce bags and purple chocolates! And I am fascinated by your wattle seeds and acorns. It is very sad about the barossa valley. I love cherries too but imagine the cherry juice would be intense but I can imagine it would add a nice touch to cocktails (or a mocktail for me)

    • Fiona Ryan May 25, 2019, 9:33 am

      The cherry juice is still their unopened as we usually only have a cocktail on a Saturday afternoon/evening and we have been so busy recently, we haven’t had any. Yes, I think it will be sweet but our usual mixer is soda water so I’m hoping the balance is just right.

  • eliotthecat May 13, 2019, 5:03 am

    Such great stuff. We love to bring home foodie stuffs when we travel.

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