in my kitchen + april

chestnuts2

I can’t believe it’s already been a month since my last ‘In My Kitchen’ post (my very first contribution to this beautiful online kitchen community hosted by Maureen at Orgasmic Chef). It’s seemed like a very short few weeks, mostly due to the Easter break, family events and our quiet holiday down south.

It’s still autumn, slightly colder than last month but still warm enough for a t-shirt on sunny days. We’re spending evenings in blankets but daylight hours still regularly involve iced coffee (and shorts, as you can see!).

Anyway, back to this month in my tiny apartment kitchen. It’s been an enjoyable one, thanks to visiting friends and an armload of produce from the south west last week. Here are some photographic highlights:

chestnuts

  1. sweet chestnuts

As I mentioned in this post, Aaron, Loki and I were lucky enough to spend most of last week rambling around the south west countryside. During a long walk in the forest (including Balingup’s spectacular Golden Valley Tree Park), we came across a rather stunning sweet chestnut tree full of clusters of spiky burrs. Not being a seasoned ‘chestnut forager’, I was unaware that the most of the mature nuts were actually on the ground rather than on the tree (darn it) but I did pick a couple of split pods (cupolas) that have since matured. I’ve removed the fruit (wearing a pair of rather inadequate oven gloves) and the skins have darkened to a familiar shiny brown. I’m looking forward to roasting them for a salad.

honey

2. beechworth ‘bee cause’ honey

I’ve been a loyal supporter of 100% Australian Beechworth Honey (a family owned honey business based in Corowa, Victoria) for many years now, alongside various other smaller Western Australian honey producers (such as Dean’s Bees honey, which I’ve posted about here). Although you’re probably aware that I’ve switched to maple syrup, coconut nectar and rice malt syrup for my weekly baking, we still use honey on occasion (usually atop porridge or Weetbix) and issues of colony collapse are constantly on my mind.

If you haven’t heard about colony collapse, it’s a loose term referring to the impact of ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ (CCD) and a consequential worldwide decline in bee colonies. The reasons are complex and multifaceted, in part related to the global spread of bee diseases, reduced availability of nectar and pollen resources and use of agricultural chemicals that are harmful to bees (read more here). Australian honeybees currently remain unaffected, but there are concerns for global food security and ecosystems in general.

As a larger Australian honey producer, Beechworth established their ‘Bee Cause’ project a couple of years ago to fundraise for farming, education and research projects related to colony collapse. Though the tag was initially attached to their honey mead, it’s now expanded to include a range of premium Australian regional honeys such as the ‘coastal honey’ above, all of which are available via local grocers and supermarkets. Not only is the honey delicious (I drizzled it over my porridge below!) but Beechworth have committed money from every jar to the future of honeybees. See more here:

 

I am not in any way affiliated with Beechworth honey, nor have I been compensated for this post. I enjoy Beechworth products at my own expense and all of the above opinions are my own. 

porridge

3. porridge, porridge, porridge

Porridge (or oatmeal) has been in high breakfast rotation over the past couple of weeks. During our holiday down south, the morning air was crisp and cold; perfect conditions for warm bowls of steaming oats. We’ve enjoyed our porridge in quite a few different ways, mostly as I’ve been trying to ‘mix things up’ for blog posts. Our favourites so far have been coconut cream oats (pictured above), traditional creamy porridge with poached quince (recipe here) and the creamiest banana cinnamon oats with fresh banana and coastal honey.

I’m going to post a few more porridge recipes before the cold season is out, so watch this space. I’m thinking roasted pears with rosemary, honey and cinnamon, maybe some chocolatey cacao oats… oh, and do you want the recipe for these coconut cream oats? I didn’t really write it down but, you know, I’m sure another breakfast trial can be arranged…

starter

 4. sourdough starter

As I’m sure you’re all aware, there are plenty of wonderful sourdough bakers among our friends in the blogosphere. One of these is Sandra (aka ‘Lady Redspecs’) from Please Pass the Recipe. I’ve drooled over all of Sandra’s sourdough posts, from her traditional spelt sourdough to this gorgeous Turkish pide, so after confessing my absolutely terrible history with sourdough in this post, Sandra offered to send me some of her own dried starter.

Another confession: I haven’t activated the starter yet, partly as we left for a holiday after I received it and… mostly as I’m scared of killing it. But as Sandra has said, many baking failures are due to lack of confidence (fear!) so next week, I’m going to rehydrate this little wonder. I’m pretty darn excited (and scared, but mostly excited!). Thanks Sandra x

podcast

5. love, food podcast

I’m one of those people who always listens to something as I cook, either via Netflix (like Michael Pollan’s new documentary) or more recently, via internet podcasts. The most recent of these (thanks to the gorgeous Amy at Thoroughly Nourished Life) is a series called Love, Food by an American dietitian (RDN) named Julie Duffy Dillon. This series is wonderful – affirming, encouraging, balanced and real. It covers everything from internet dieting trends to negative self-perceptions (self loathing) and their impact upon our mental health and life choices.

I’ve also been listening to this series as I work out, which is a new thing for me (I normally listen to my workout playlist or comedy series, such as the Wilosophy iPhone podcast by Wil Anderson). I definitely recommend it, it puts any emphasis on weight (loss) and poor self image into a more healthy perspective.

cooked

6. quince

I’m still eating my way through the last half of this batch of oven-poached quince (which I blogged about here). It’s absolutely stunning, ruby red and mellow, though I’m starting to think that I want to bake/create/cook with the remainder of the jar. My first thought is to make this quince crumble cake with crème fraîche from Australian Gourmet Traveller, however if you have any favourite recipes, send them my way! I love cooking tried and tested favourites from friends.

So, that pretty much sums up the last month in my kitchen as we transition further into Australian autumn. Thanks again to Maureen for hosting this monthly link-up – if you’d like to read about other contributing kitchens (or write a post yourself), head over to her post at Orgasmic Chef for details!

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