in my kitchen + autumn

books

I’ve been wanting to participate in the ‘In My Kitchen’ series for… months? Probably years, by now. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, I believe the series was started by the lovely Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial back in 2010 as a way to chronicle the seasonal happenings in her own Sydney kitchen.

After roughly twelve months, she sent out a call for other bloggers to join the series and (fast forwarding to February, 2016) there are now dozens of participants each month from all over the world. Maureen at Orgasmic Chef has joined Celia as the present host of each month’s ‘In My Kitchen’ series (not a small feat, at all) and in turn, her blog has become the single ‘hub’ for both readers and participants to click through each month of kitchen features. Good idea, huh? So. Much. Fun.

As for me? Well, I’ve been quietly following the series for at least eighteen months, maybe more. I’ve occasionally commented, but I’ve mostly been reading, learning and admiring the incredible cooking talent that occupies domestic kitchens worldwide. There has been much intention to join the series; in fact, I have a couple of draft posts from six-or-so months ago that remain unfinished. But as per usual, my temperamental, inconsistent blogging qualities won over and my desire to participate never translated to actual engagement.

Until now.

carrottray2

So, it’s March. The first month of Australian autumn, characterised by gradually decreasing temperatures, russet leaves and hot cross buns (nah, we don’t really do pumpkin spice in this country). As per this writer from the Huffington Post, it’s really not cold yet in Australia so… well, I’m still wearing shorts and t-shirts (evidence here) but cooler nights are providing greater enthusiasm for roasted vegetables and spicy Shiraz.

Despite the continuation of balmy weather, there are a few other things happening in my kitchen this month, mostly dictated by gifts from family and friends. So (following the general template of these posts) here’s a short update of what’s happening in my kitchen:

  1. Recipe Books.

As per my header photograph, I’ve been gifted with a few new volumes recently which are proudly adorning my timber coffee table. They all generously lean towards my obsession with plant based whole foods, sustainability and seasonal eating, so I’m reading a few recipes each night and taking notes on what to cook as the season changes. So far, I’ve made a few deliciously ‘cheezy’ cashew things from The Unbakery by Megan May (a gift from my friend Lucy, thanks lovely) whilst adapting a couple of apple-y autumn salads from Seasons by Donna Hay (a gorgeous hand-me-down from my friend Elissa, who knows me all too well). I’m fuelling my Mexican bent with The Thug Kitchen (whilst attempting not to corrupt my angelic mind, isn’t that right Vicky (thanks lovely) and Graz?) and learning about dehydrating and flat breads from Amy Chaplin (this one was a gift to myself, I am totally enamoured).

I’ve also dug out an older literary gift from my friend Trixie, A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry. Mostly as I miss her (Trix, not Diana, obviously) and her tiny dog Clem, who in my opinion is Loki’s long-lost soulmate. See, this is Loki’s face when I mention Clemmie*:

loki

*possibly a bit of creative license. I was actually telling him to get out of the way as I wanted to photograph my cookbooks on the bed (you can spy some binding in the upper right hand corner).

You can look forward to seeing the influence of this reading upon my cooking over the next few months (I might even share a recipe or two, with appropriate credit).

buns

2. Argentine Brioche Buns

Aaron and I have been eating our way through a bag of sweet buns over the past week. They were part of a thank you gift from the beautiful mother of some friends of ours who hail from Argentina; as far as I can tell they’re made from brioche dough with a soft, sweet jammy centre. Lucy (who made the buns) advised that the jam is actually quince paste, or dulce de membrillo, a popular confection in South America.

They’re absolutely delicious, buttery and rich, perfect with strong coffee for afternoon tea (there are a couple left over that I’m thinking of turning into breakfast grilled cheese… would that be a travesty? Sweet quince, melty rich cheese, sweet brioche dough… yum. Watch this space).

sauce

3. Condiments. And lots of hot sauce. 

As I mentioned in this post, I had the privilege of catching up with Graz and his wife Jennee a couple of weeks ago during their recent trip to Western Australia. What I didn’t mention is that after our dinner outing, Graz gifted us (meaning Aaron and I) a bag of homemade condiments including South Carolina mustard sauce, house BBQ sauce and tomato sauce alongside a generous jar of ‘Big Red Rub‘ (smoky barbecue dry rub).

Oh my golly. These condiments are good. I’ve had them on the table twice this week, accompanying crisp barbecued chicken, smoky baked potatoes and homemade apple coleslaw. I also made a soft boiled egg, beet and lettuce salad (old school styles) dressed with homemade dill, caper and lemon ‘proper mayonnaise’ and for some reason the mustard sauce suited that too.

I can’t wait to try the rub with some free-range pork ribs on the weekend (hopefully from Plantagenet) braised for a few hours under foil. I’ll serve the juicy pork with some soft white rolls, salted butter, corn and hot sauce, perhaps some fat dill pickles for good measure. It will be ridiculously good. I’m calling it. Oh, and there will be beer.

cups

4. Tea cups by Patricia Fernandes

Some time ago, my friend Lucy gave me four pastel-coloured embossed tea cups made by a local Western Australian ceramic artist, Patricia Fernandes. They’re from FOUND at the Fremantle Arts Centre (the most amazing store, ever) and I loved them instantly, so much that they went straight onto my ‘special objects’ shelf.

Ha. Do any of you have one of those? A place for beautiful objects that really should be used, but aren’t… in my case, because I’m afraid I might ruin them. Other key items from that shelf include a stunning salad bowl from Gorman Home Time by Connie Lichti, a handmade salt dish from Gewürzhaus, some ceramics that I found in a tiny store in Italy and a Hofbräuhaus beer stein from in Munich, all of which have never been used (except on the odd occasion for food styling, go figure).

Anyway, yesterday I decided that enough is enough. Squirrelling objects away for the winter (or the dust bunnies) doesn’t benefit anyone. So this afternoon, I gave the cups a gentle rinse, dried them and removed the labels. I’m in the process of brewing a nice big pot of steamed green tea with lemon and I intend to drink each sip quite thoughtfully from the cup in periwinkle blue. Next time Lucy comes around, I’ll make a batch of these and rinse the cups again, refreshing them with a pot of steaming spiced soy Chai (or maybe these homemade mallows and hot chocolate).

pana

5. Pana chocolate

This raw, organic chocolate is an absolute favourite of mine. Partly as it feels virtuous (despite being decidedly chocolatey) but mostly because, in all honesty, it’s just so darn delicious. Think of the deepest, richest bitter cacao combined with smooth, creamy cacao butter and hints of sweet coconut nectar. That is Pana, with whatever mix-ins you fancy.

Talking mix-ins: I have a particular love for the mint bar, seconded by the fig and wild orange bar with chunks of moist dried fig (bar pictured above). I’m also desperate to try the hemp and nib version, because… well, ‘body scrub’ (follow the link and explanation regarding Australian laws. Yep, I like living life on the edge).

Despite my infatuation, Pana doesn’t regularly feature in my kitchen as it’s a teensy bit pricy (as most organic small-batch products justifiably are). Instead, I ‘make do’ with slightly cheaper homemade treats such as these sticky salted tahini date caramel bars (which are wonderful to keep in the refrigerator for mid-afternoon energy lapses), energy balls and Medjool dates. Until the recurrent impulse strikes and I squirrel a bar of Pana home from the health food store, like this one. They’re sooo good (and no, I have no affiliation with Pana chocolate, I just like their products).

apples1

6. Apples, apples, apples

I got another text from my mama today. She’s harvested the last of the apples from her tree (excluding the extra-high ones that she can’t reach) and they’re currently sitting in a basket on her kitchen table. The remaining apple count in my refrigerator sits at three (the extra teeny tiny ones that were too cute to eat) so I’m keen to collect a few to make this gorgeous apple caramel cake (Jen, you goddess you) and Amy’s kale, apple and wild rice salad (with crunchy pecans and sweet cranberries).

I also intend to revisit my spiced apple and buttermilk cake as there’s leftover buttermilk in the freezer… or maybe I’ll just turn it into pancakes with caramelised apples. Ain’t no harm in that.

So that’s it. This month’s kitchen round up, thanks to inspiration from Celia, Maureen, Jen, Anne and other friends I’m yet to meet.  Here’s hoping it’ll become a beautiful monthly ritual!

57 responses

  1. I really feel sorry for that angelic mind of yours with people like me about 😜
    Glad you’re enjoying those condiments…
    I like this “in my kitchen” thing. Im gonna play one day too, I reckon.
    Cheers Loz ✌️

    • Yeah definitely do it, I had a lot of fun putting this together. Next month I will try to be even more organised and get some more cooking pics into the mix :) Thanks Graz

  2. Welcome to the club- always great to meet new members and see what’s happening in their kitchens. Nice baked carrots- it is that time. The apples look so perfect for your cakes, which I must check out through the links.
    beautiful cups too.

    • Thanks so much Francesca! Yes definitely, I have been having lots of fun roasting things. The apples have been so wonderful too. I’m lucky to have a mum who has a tree! Thanks so much, I look forward to reading your update too xx

  3. You have wonderful things in your kitchen this month. Those apples look really fresh and crispy and the cookbooks always make me curious about what’s inside.

    Only one thing – Celias in Sydney. I’m on the Sunshine Coast and Autumn has definitely not arrived but I would LOVE those roasted veg anyway.

    • Thanks so much Maureen! I appreciate the lovely comment. And thanks for the clarification re Celia, I don’t know why I had Melbourne in my head! I changed it accordingly :) Hope that you enjoy the last of the summer to autumn transition x

  4. Welcome Laura! I hope you too find IMK to be a fabulous community. The tea cups are gorgeous. I believe in using beautiful things, you have only one life, you should spoil yourself.

    • Aw thank you so much lovely! Nice to hear from you. Yes, I’ve had fun so far! I love being able to interact with other bloggers and it’s been great finding out what people are loving/cooking/reading in their own kitchens. I look forward to reading your post too. And thanks for the encouragement about using nice things, I needed to hear that! x

  5. Interesting that Cholua and Tabasco are worldwide staples of hot sauce. Along with Sriracha (the Rooster brand, made in Los Angeles) I think they are in most every kitchen in the US. Well, I knew Tabasco had made it internationally, as it’s over a century old. Good to see them along with the other beauties in your kitchen.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    • So funny isn’t it? I didn’t really think about the fact that I don’t buy local hot sauce… we don’t really have a massive amount of locally produced ones, though I recently bought a Byron Bay (NSW) sauce to try. We do have Rooster sriracha over here too, I did have some but I finished it! I also buy Frank’s hot sauce (also American I think?). Thanks for taking the time to comment Mae xx

    • Well,they could be tiny bowls! I guess the photo makes them a bit disproportionate, haha. They’re lovely aren’t they? I felt very lucky to be gifted them! x

  6. Laura, I love reading IMK posts and getting a sneak peak into what’s happening in other people’s kitchens. So lovely to see what’s been happening in yours – lots of yumminess and beautiful things (especially little Loki!) xx

    • Thanks so much lovely! So nice to be able to participate this month, I’ve had heaps of fun heading ‘over to other people’s kitchens’ (so to speak!) around the blogosphere! Loki is a cutie isn’t he? Ah, I can’t help but smile whenever I look at him xx

    • He is such a little attention seeker. Or maybe it’s just that I get completely sucked in to those big brown eyes and the mournful expression (I am going to be in the worst kind of trouble when Aaron and I actually have kids!). And yes indeed, chocolate and apples go a long way! x

  7. Wow ~ you are off to a flying start with your first In My Kitchen! I loved reading about everything in your kitchen, but my heart went out to those beautiful cups. Perfect for green tea and lemon. Did you make cheesy grilled delights with the buns?

    • They’re so pretty aren’t they Anne? I felt very lucky to be gifted with them! After having a look through your blog I think that you would adore the Fremantle Arts Centre. It’s a very beautiful, organic, nature-based venue… your drawings would probably be right at home in the gift shop ;) I didn’t end up making cheesy delights with the buns, haha… I kind of wish I had stuck with the plan though. The quince jam within them was quite lovely as-is though.
      Thanks for taking the time to visit my little space! x

    • Thanks lovely! Loki is the funniest little dog. So much character, it makes it very hard to be bored! Thanks for always writing the sweetest things, hope March is treating you well so far! xx

  8. Haha! I have plenty of pics of Clemmie looking at me mournfully and I know she’s pining for Loki in every one (secretly. She won’t say out loud because she’s shy. Puppy love).

    What a lovely selection of things, Laura. Chocolate – drool. Brioche buns – drool. Those TEACUPS! Drool! They are just so beautiful and I’m glad you decided to use them – sometimes that’s the best way to appreciate an object.

    Tell your mum she needs an apple picker. My dad (knowing my apple obsession) gave me one a few years back and it’s basically a long pole with a “clawed” bag on the end so you can grab the apples at the top of the tree and catch them in it. I have great admiration for the genius who invented it ;) It also meant I could rescue the fruit that the rooks were mischievously devouring at dawn. Who knew rooks ate apples?

    xx

    • Ha, puppies and their mournful looks. It’s definitely a god-given manipulative skill! I can never leave Loki when he gives me ‘that face’… well, most of the time, anyway. Every now and then there’s a place that he absolutely can’t attend (like the cinema, though I’ve been tempted to tuck him into my jacket!).

      Ooh, an apple picker! That sounds like a wondrous tool. I might have to have a look next time we’re in the hardware store. Great that it has a ‘catcher’ too (that was going to be my next question: whether the apples fall off onto the ground!). And YES. Rooks are such destructive birds. My friend’s parents have a fig tree and the rooks just peck holes in all the figs, leaving the rest of the damaged fruit on the tree. I mean, eating the entirety of the fruit is one thing but just pecking holes… that’s just annoying. Maybe I should get them an apple (fig?) picker too.

      Thanks Trix, hugs to you and Clem xx

    • Oh yes – it’s such a little block of chocolate, definitely doesn’t last long at all Tandy! Thanks so much for the kind words, what a brilliant idea to grow herbs in the cups! I might just do that x

  9. I’d never heard of this series. So interesting. It’s just like in winter time, when it’s dark ouside really early and people forget to draw their curtains. Then they turn on the lights and you can look straight into their home without them really realising :)

    I LOVE Amy Chaplin’s book SO much and glad it’s found its way into your kitchen too. And those cups are adorable.
    Thanks for this insight :)

    • That’s such a good insight Kimberley. Very true… it’s like having a glimpse into the unstyled, unedited bits and pieces in someone’s kitchen (with their kitchen notes!). I’ve enjoyed following the series so far (it started on the East Coast of Australia which is why you’re probably unacquainted with it) and it was fun to actually write my own post this month! I do hope to continue on with the IMK group if I’m organised enough.

      And yes, Amy Chaplin’s book is wonderful. I’ve really enjoyed cooking from it so far and I look forward to learning many more plant-based recipes and basics as time goes on! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Has been lovely ‘meeting’ you in this very big-but-small world that is the blogosphere! xx

  10. Thanks for giving us a peek behind the curtain to see where the magic happens. For my tastes, it’s not a real kitchen unless there’s chocolate in it. You, Laura, have a real kitchen. :)

  11. Its wonderful to meet you Laura for #IMK. We have the same passion – cookbooks! I think most of us at #IMK LOOOOOVVVVE cookbooks! Your furkid Loki is too cute, my ragdoll looks at me like that too when he doesn’t want to be moved ;) Funny little babies aren’t they? I think I need to get me some of that chocolate – I’ve cut out a lot of refined sugar from my diet so this sounds perfect – searching where I can by some now ;) And those colourful cups are gorgeous, you could even use them as bowls for nuts, olives and other nibblies. Hope to see you at Miss Food Fairy soon x

    • Sorry for the late reply lovely! Thank you so so much for the sweet comment!!! Haha, yep. Love fur babies. They’re such wonderful additions to the household, I can’t imagine life without Loki’s little face and cheeky expressions. And yeah, definitely try Pana if you can get hold of some. It’s my favourite chocolate, the rich cacao definitely satisfies cravings whilst feeling that you’re not being too ‘naughty’, haha. Definitely appreciate you stopping over! x

  12. yes i think it is important to use your lovely things. who knows what life will bring? but it deserves loveliness. yum dark chocolate! welcome to IMK too.

    • I love your thinking Sherry. So true, ‘special’ things will be wasted if we don’t use them! Thanks for welcoming me to IMK, I am loving the beautiful people who visit each other’s virtual spaces each month! I look forward to checking out your own post and blog x

  13. Love, love this post Laura!! Feels like a chance to drop in your kitchen for a cup of green tea (in your beautiful new cups)–and to hear all you’ve been enjoying in the kitchen. And I’m hoping sometime soon we get to see a photo of your “special objects” shelf! Thanks of the lovely visit. xox

    • Apples are such a beautiful fruit. Although I love summer stone fruit, mangoes and grapes, there’s just something beautiful and comforting about apples :) Thanks so much Johanna, so nice to hear from you. I’m loving the fun group of bloggers contributing to IMK. Hoping to do another post next month! xx

  14. So glad that at last we got to snoop round your kitchen. Totally envy you decent apples. Only have one of those cook books – it’s a change of appetite from the lovely Diana Henry and its full of superb things. Hope we get a chance to nosey round again soon.

    • Hello lovely! So nice to hear from you! I might try and create another one of these ‘in my kitchen’ posts for next month, it was pretty fun to write and I really enjoyed (like you) seeing bits and pieces from other kitchens in the blogosphere. The Diana Henry book is wonderful isn’t it? I had so much fun reading it (like a novel, from cover to cover – definitely my tradition!) and I can’t wait to cook a few more recipes. Thanks for the kind words xx

  15. Pingback: in my kitchen + april « Laura's Mess

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