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In My Kitchen… August 2019

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…

small new potatoes with dirt on them spill out of a paper bag onto a bench

…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.

A bowl of potato salad on a tary with checkered napkins in the background

The other half went into spiced Gujarati Potatoes.

cubes of potatoes tossed in spices and coconut to make 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…

small jar with silver lid and small bottle with gold lid with vanilla bean products
Vanilla bean paste and extract…

…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…

several dozen brightly coloured plastic lids tumbled onto a bench

…..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…

spreadable butter in a reused plastic container

…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…

coconut curry and lentil soup in brown bowl sitting on bench alongside spoon and jar of lentils and spices

…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!

22 comments… add one
  • Pamela Hayward August 3, 2019, 3:34 pm

    A great post as always. The Ekka brings back memories from my childhood. Growing up in the country it was an exciting day for us. Getting up in the dark and dressibg in our good clothes and father frivibg the four hours to Brisbane. We were never allowed to buy show bags till 3pm (from our pocket money). I loved the excitement of it all. Years later as a teenager I was involved in the judging of the stock aa a Rural Youth leader!
    I should start In My Kichen as i enjoy reading what you are all doing. ,🎈

    • Fiona Ryan August 4, 2019, 11:37 am

      My brother and I have very fond memories of the Ekk as during our primary school years, school holiday coincided with the Ekka. We wouldn’t go every year with our parents. Maybe every few years. But because it was during the holidays, we were allowed to catch the bus into the Ekka and go without them. Sometimes we’d go two or three times and get coupons for rides by collecting litter. Can you imagine an 8 and a 7 year old being allowed to catch a bus anywhere by themselves these days?

  • Mae Sander August 4, 2019, 10:46 am

    Spicing gingerbread with ras al hanout is an idea of genius! I definitely have to try it, though I rarely make gingerbread. Vanilla is notoriously hard to grow because it has to be hand-pollinated. Interesting that it’s grown in Australia. I visited two vanilla plantations on two of the islands in French Polynesia, and they seemed to have trouble with invasive birds. Is the Australian vanilla grown under a canopy?

    best…. mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    • Fiona Ryan August 4, 2019, 11:42 am

      I’m unsure about the details of the vanilla farm. It’s in tropical rainforest and is closer to the equator than Tahiti, which is why it grows so well. (It’s not all wide brown land!) I imagine birds are a problem but no doubt they have worked out a netting system. The vanilla is likewise hand pollinated.

  • johanna @ green gourmet giraffe August 4, 2019, 9:57 pm

    Sounds like August is a fun time in Brisbane. The stout gingerbread and the lentil soup gifts look wonderful. I like your thinking with sourdough baking – it looks like a great shortcut. I like the spreadable butter idea, seems to be very thoughtful solution to a problem. I heard of a school collecting those bottle tops for prosthetics too. Wonder if it is the same program. Enjoy the Ekka and Bali and I am little jealous of you and Sherry hanging out together and viewing margaret olley artworks!

    • Fiona Ryan August 15, 2019, 3:31 pm

      I’m sure the bottle top collection is for the same people. They are all over the news at present. They mount up quickly so I’m glad they can go to good use. Meanwhile, I’m making another batch of gingerbread this weekend for a party. It’s so easy that I feel I need a couple of cans of stout on hand for emergency baking!

  • shaheen August 5, 2019, 1:30 am

    So much good food in your kitchen, i like the sound of the Gujrati potatoes. I have watched the Lunchbox, but i think it may have been called the Tiffin Box here. It was a very good movie. I have been wanting to make Nigella’s recipe for a while, but can’t seem to find the excuse too, but must admit your variation does intrigue me too.

    • Fiona Ryan August 15, 2019, 3:28 pm

      The gingerbread was such a hit that I’m making it again this weekend to plonk on a table as part of a casual get together.

  • eliotthecat August 5, 2019, 5:57 am

    I was collecting bottle caps for an art teacher—I need to see what she ever produced out of them. πŸ™‚ The fair sounds amazing (like our state fairs here). I am so going to check out your shrub recipe. I was just telling my sister that that mulled blackberry vinegar is more of a shrub than a vinegar. Cheers!

    • Fiona Ryan August 15, 2019, 3:27 pm

      And as predicted, the winds arrived bang on time. So windy and gusty but the air is so clear. It’s the last 2 days of the Ekka and then it’s done for another year.

  • sherry August 5, 2019, 9:45 pm

    hi fiona
    wasn’t it lovely to catch up IRL? we must do it more often. i must check out the local suppliers of those vanilla beans. About 6 years ago, i bought 20 pods online for $22! i see they are triple that now… Eek! great idea to recycle bottle tops. i always feel guilty throwing them in the bin. Looks like i make a similar warm indian potato salad with mustard seeds and red onion. I am going to give that spreadable butter a go. we use a lot of it. πŸ™‚ thanks for being part of IMK. cheers sherry

    • Fiona Ryan August 15, 2019, 3:25 pm

      The spreadable butter is a hit here. We’re probably eating more than we would normally ; ) That vanilla was a bargain! Oh well, good whilst it lasted.

  • Shari from August 9, 2019, 4:57 pm

    We went out to the Foodie Market the other night – and it was surprisingly good for Winter in Sydney. But tonight it is FREEZING. Hope that you don’t get this cold snap up there! Shari from http://www.goodfoodweek.com.au

    • Fiona Ryan August 15, 2019, 3:24 pm

      ha ha – we’ve had our few days of cold weather followed by the Ekka winds as predicted but spring is definitely on the way here.

  • Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons August 14, 2019, 1:31 am

    What a great idea for a gift and the resulting soup looks delicious! I’ve pinned the potato recipe, we also loved that movie. What do you think happened in the end? Did they get together? We were left guessing.

    • Fiona Ryan August 15, 2019, 3:23 pm

      Ha ha 0 Liz, that’s so funny. My husband only likes happy endings with things neatly tied up in a bow. When we were re-watching it he said, ‘I love this movie. I forgot how good it is.’ Then we got to the end and he said ‘Wait! What? I forgot about this. What do you think happens? I’m just going to pretend they got together and went to Bhutan’. Such a hopeless romantic. I actually think that she travelled and found a better life but he stayed behind and, they never met.

  • The Napoli Alert August 14, 2019, 5:05 pm

    The sourdough looks great! Sometimes not being bothered turns out for the best!

    • Fiona Ryan August 15, 2019, 3:20 pm

      We loved it so much that I’ve got a mid week batch proving so we have something for Friday night. I may never make a plain loaf again.

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime August 15, 2019, 7:43 pm

    Enjoy Bali – I had a super time while there. Regional Flavours is the kind of place I would visit. They should have a regular event each month to showcase seasonal produce πŸ™‚

    • Fiona Ryan August 24, 2019, 9:26 am

      It’s a huge event. Nearly too big. We are heading up to the Cairns region in October and I’ll be glad to check out the tastes and flavours without the rush.

  • Moya August 21, 2019, 7:54 pm

    Love a good potato salad and your looks delicious. Those lentil gift jars look so lovely, what a gorgeous foodie gift. Enjoy Bali, it is a beautiful place πŸ™‚

    • Fiona Ryan August 24, 2019, 9:30 am

      Thanks Moya. I’ve been churning out a huge production line of Recipes in Jars as there are just so many birthdays at present! It’s simple enough but takes time to make it look nice. I’m always happy with the result though.

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