August in Brisbane is an interesting month. Technically, it’s still winter but the clear, sunny skies mean that the spring buds and blooms are already bursting forth. There has been no rain at all in the past few months so the grass is once again a shade of pale straw and crisp underfoot. The outdoor festivals are crammed into August, before it gets too hot to be in the sun. There’s been the Good Food Festival, Regional Flavours, the Night Noodle Markets and of course, the biggest festival of them all, the Ekka.
What’s the Ekka? It’s the Royal Queensland Show or Exhibition and it’s been going for 143 years. The slogan is ‘when the bush comes to the city’ and it’s a massive agricultural show with the smells and sounds of the country topped up with a dizzying dose of rides, fairy floss and show bags. There are flowers, cakes and jams to be judged; ribbons to be won; money to be lost on games of chance; strawberry ice creams to be eaten to raise money for charities; and who could miss the thrilling wood chop?! Let’s not forget the traditional guessing of the fireworks colours before they burst. Green!
It runs for 10 days and to everyone in Queensland, it is simply know as The Ekka. We’ve had our warmest July (and winter on record) but the blustery Ekka winds are just around the corner. The cold winds herald the start of the Ekka and the end of winter. Here’s a link for those who may be interested in the history of The Ekka. Now, onto what’s happening in my kitchen.
In my August kitchen…
…there are potatoes. I recently visited Regional Flavours, a weekend event that showcases producers and vendors from all across Queensland. Bauer’s Organic Farms are famous for their potatoes, grown in the fertile Lockyer Valley, just west of Brisbane. This bag of new potatoes was $5 and they’re all gone now. Half went into a warm potato salad that we scoffed down one Saturday lunch time. Recipe here.
The other half went into spiced Gujarati Potatoes.
This is a favourite recipe, that I published after I went to see the movie ‘The Lunchbox’. Quite coincidentally, the movie was on SBS last week. It’s a delightful movie and of course, revolves around the world of Indian lunchboxes or, Tiffins!
In my kitchen…
…there has been quite a lot of evening baking happening. Last Sunday I left some sourdough to prove and went out to the local galleries. I stayed out longer than expected and when I came home, I really couldn’t be bothered preparing loaves for baking. So instead, I smashed the dough into baking tins with a healthy dose of olive oil and a topping of crushed garlic, rosemary, orange rind and salt flakes. It was a great result and nice change for lunches during the week.
This was followed up the next night by Nigella Lawson’s Stout Gingerbread. I made a big batch for a farewell morning tea. It was so quick and easy, I can see this becoming a catering standard. Hopefully I’ll have time to write about it soon.
In my kitchen…
…there is a mother load of vanilla. Broken Nose Vanilla were also at Regional Flavours so I stocked up on their products, grown in Tropical North Queensland. It’s a lot of vanilla, and it wasn’t cheap but the quality is there and this will last and last. We are actually visiting this region in October but it’s easier to buy here, rather than carting it back in our luggage. If you’re interested in supporting an Australian producer, I’ve included a link so you can find you nearest supplier. They also have an online shop for those further afield. Broken Nose Vanilla.
In my kitchen…
…..are many, many plastic lids. We keep our milk bottle lids as well as any water or soft drink bottle lids that come our way. Usually they are headed to Reverse Garbage for a second life as car wheels or robot eyes for craft classes. This time though, they are being passed to a colleague who collects on behalf of a charity involved in re-purposing them into simple prosthetic limbs for children. Bottle tops are easy to collect but if you would like to support Envision with this project, what they really need is money to buy more machines, to turn more bottle tops in joy. Here is a link to their Go Fund Me page.
In my kitchen…
…I have started making my own spreadable butter. I can’t tell you how easy this is. To quote Rowan Atkinson, ’tis but the work of a moment’. I have started making spreadable butter for two reasons. To cut down on single use plastic containers coming into the house and, to support local farmers rather than buying butter from Danish cows, halfway across the world. As a bite sized reader pointed out, it also means you know what’s going into it. I know there are many people who prefer not to use spreadable butter. Whilst I use plain butter in baking, spreadable suits our lifestyle and climate when it comes to toast, sandwiches and digestive biscuits. If you’re interested, the recipe for spreadable butter is here.
In my kitchen…
…there is coconut curry lentil soup. I made a few Recipes in a Jar for friends as gifts. July is crowded with birthdays. Before I made the gifts, I wanted to be sure the recipe really worked so I made several large quantities of this soup. I have to tell you, it’s delicious. So much so, it’s become a lunch time staple. There is no effort involved other than measuring out the ingredients. Mine of course, went into jars for gifts but you can simply measure and pop in the saucepan. Simple as that. Recipe for Coconut Curry & Lentil Soup here is you’re keen.
In My Kitchen is hosted by Sherry’s Pickings. Last week whilst my sourdough was proving, I crossed over from the digital world to real life and met up with Sherry and another friend, to see the Margaret Olley exhibition ‘A Generous Life” at QAGOMA.
It doesn’t happen often enough, given we both live in Brisbane but it’s nice to connect with people you correspond with on a daily basis. Enjoy the rest of your month. We are in Bali for a week at the end of August but I know I’ll be wondering where the month went before you know it!