Monday, 2 December 2013

In My Kitchen - December 2013, and my lucky streak

So it seems December has rolled around again and we have already seen enough decorations about, yet there is still a little room for some Christmas cheer.  Having a 4 year old around really helps.  But I am not buying a large singing Christmas tree for her.  However we did get excited at the Christmas BBQ shapes at the supermarket this morning.  So begins a peek into my kitchen, which actually has been full of good food, but not much Christmas.  Yet!

I was really pleased to manage to get to our local farmers market this month.  I was very excited to buy lots of good produce.  You can see what I did with the dried apricots, purple carrots, cultured beetroot, asparagus and milawa white cheese elsewhere.  Stay tuned for use of the sauerkraut brine.  Can you guess what I have used it for?

These baby carrots at the market were just so gorgeous that I bought them despite also having purple carrots in my shopping bag and regular orange carrots in the fridge at home.  I roasted them with maple syrup and they were wonderfully sweet and tender.

More goodies from the Coburg Farmers Market.  I am usually very suspicious of apricots at this time of year but I have bought such delicious stone fruit from Smiths that I was willing to take the risk.  They were as full of flavour and juice as all apricots should be.  The cherries were pretty good too.  I have told you about the kale becoming healthy chips.  Less healthy was the brownie with a caramel layer.  It was sheer chocolate decadence and we shared one piece between three of us.

One of our favourite regular stalls at the market is the chocolate lady from Cocoa Rhapsody.  We always have a taste and buy a block.  The salted lime is a favourite but I was interested in the new Almond Pinstripe with a layer of dark chocolate and a layer of creamy white almond layer. It was superb.  (Not vegan.)

I also went shopping at Brunswick IGA.  Here is some of what I bought.  Quite a lot of it is available in other supermarkets.  Yet I was still very pleased with my haul because it included black beans, Marry's Gone Crackers, strawberry and pomegranate tea and linden herbal tea, all of which we can't buy in our closest supermarkets.

Best of all from IGA is their extensive chocolate range.  This Russian Earl Grey Tea dark chocolate from Cafe Tasse was amazing.  Not only was the chocolate smooth and rich but it had small tea leaves throughout it that had a pleasing crunch.  (Not vegan.)

I have mentioned that Sylvia is going to school next year.  Not only has she had school orientation sessions but at her kindergarten they have a transition program.  Part of this is bringing a packed lunch one day a week for a month.  (She usually gets a cooked lunch.)  We have had lots of discussions and tried a few different things: vegemite sandwiches, sushi, rice crackers and dip, roasted chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, yoghurt covered rice cakes and fruit.

I was surprised at how much Sylvia enjoyed being able to choose her lunch rather than eating what was served to her.  She ate all her lunch each day.  She is excited about packed lunches next year.  It will be an interesting challenge for me to be making lunch five days a week next year.  I am sure there will be some posts about it.

Cindy kindly pointed me towards a local source of liquid smoke.  It is the gourmet food store at the top of the escalator in Lygon Court.  I was so excited that there were three types to choose from that I bought two.  It mostly goes into tofu bacon.  Tonight I was too lazy to marinate the tofu bacon.  Instead I cut the tofu into chunks, fried it in the frypan and then added the marinade until it was a sticky sauce.  (A bit like this.)  So so so good.

We bought some strawberry jam at the Kerrimuir Primary School fete.  Even though there was already strawberry jam in our fridge.  The latter came from the supermarket.  I confess that I bought it for the glass it came in.  The Kerrimuir strawberry jam was a timely reminder of just how good homemade jam can be.  It not only tasted delicious but it also tasted of strawberries.

Sylvia and I visited a friend with two kids who sung the praises of "squeezies".  I'd never heard of them before.  But we had to try them.  We found these five:am berry yoghurts in the supermarket.  We took them home and sucked the yoghurt out of it.  That was fun.  They tasted good.  Then we forgot about them.  They were just a novelty.

I have been experimenting with making tortillas.  So far I have had ones that were too thick and ones that were thinner but only one looked right.  The above tortilla.  The rest had the wrong texture (uncooked with a few burnt spots).  I will keep trying and if I succeed in making the tortillas I have in mind, I will write more about them.

This sourdough bread dough is just one of the things that have gone wrong lately.  I have been distracted.  I forgot the salt in this dough and then I forgot about the dough.  It rose and rose and rose.  It tasted ok but the salt makes a difference to flavour and texture.  Below is a sourdough loaf that was far more successful.  I was so proud of my slashes.

I am sending this post to Celia for her In My Kitchen series.  As always I encourage you to join in or just see what is happening in other bloggers' kitchens.

Finally I have been on a lucky streak with blog giveaways lately.  (E says I should buy a lotto ticket.)  I wanted to acknowledge the bloggers from whom I have received goodies:
  • Louise of Months of Edible Celebrations held a World Pasta Day party for her seventh blogiversary.  I was delighted to join in and even more excited to be one of the recipients of a Powells book voucher to celebrate.  I have a copy of Ottolenghi's Plenty in the post.
  • I then won an e-book by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered 15, from a giveaway by Janet of the taste space.  It has fifteen tempting but healthy recipes and I have bookmarked a few to try out.
  • Lastly I found out today that I won a pack of Kez's Kitchen's gluten free cereal bites and snacks that was held by Cass of Food is My Friend.  I can't wait to try them.

Thanks to these bloggers for their kindness in sending me these goodies.  I also think it is timely to thank Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for the work she does on hosting In My Kitchen.  

37 comments:

  1. I'm very much looking forward to some tortilla instructions! All your foodstuffs look great and I'm glad to know where I can pick up liquid smoke! I like the bread slashes :)

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    1. Thanks Veganopoulous - I was very excited to find a local source of liquid smoke - and will be sure to report if I am ever happy with the whole tortilla batch (and have a photo that my neighbour and I haven't sampled)

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  2. I've been curious about liquid smoke! I'll have to try some soon. Would love to see what you think of the cookbook Plenty, I got it for my birthday this year but have yet to cook from it.

    Those plastic yogurt pouches- there's a spoonful of yogurt in there, it is eaten in 30 seconds, and there's plastic waste that will be around forever. My friends like those for their kids but I can't stand them.

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    1. Thanks Nupur - I highly recommend liquid smoke - I still use smoked paprika more but love any smoky ingredient. I have seen lots of Plenty recipes on blogs and my sister loves cooking from her copy.

      I agree that the packaging of the squeezies seems excessive - it would seem a good school snack but Sylvia's school encourages reducing packaging which I think is good both from a litter and an environmental perspective. But I am not sure it is heaps more packaging than a tub of yoghurt - which we sometimes buy too. Interested to hear your thoughts?

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  3. That's exciting that Sylvia is starting school next year! And it sounds good that there is a transition program with lunch packing etc. I imagine that will be a lot of change for both of you!

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    1. Thanks Kath - it will be big changes when sylvia starts school - I am a little sad but mostly excited - the transition program has been good in experimenting with different lunch boxes in a safe environment because the child care centre still has some cooked meals for them if they are not eating their packed lunches

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  4. I love liquid smoke- it's such a great ingredient. The next time I buy tofu I'm making your tofu bacon!
    I hope you love Dreena's PP15- I haven't made enough from it but loved the Umami burgers and black bean sweet potato soup.

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    1. Thanks Emma - highly recommend the tofu bacon - it is probably one our most recurring dishes because sylvia loves it. Thanks for the PP15 recommendations - both sound great

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  5. Johanna, you're most welcome, thank you for always joining in! You should be very proud of your slashes, as they look wonderful, and if Sylvia is already excited about taking lunch to school, then you're well on your way to a happy transition! Love all your fresh produce, especially those carrots! We ate very expensive roasted carrots in a restaurant recently, and yours look better than those! :)

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    1. Thanks Celia - I feel like I am getting to understand slashing the bread a bit more but probably need a sharper knife or razor. Sylvia is excited about lunchboxes because she often gets the sort of cooked meal that I think is a good challenge for her but she is picking things out of. She will miss her vegetarian burgers though (frys). I don't feel I am that good at roasting carrots but must buy more baby carrots to experiment

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  6. You have some terrific fruit and veges in your kitchen. I am glad Sylvia is excited about school next year.

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    1. Thanks Cakelaw - hopefully I will get to the farmers market again this month - the fruit and veg there are great quality

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  7. Oh! I reviewed those two Cocoa Rhapsody bars that my brother sent me, but now I really want that one!

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    1. Thanks Hannah - can't believe I missed your review but glad you pointed it out so I could read it - cocoa rhapsody make such lovely chocolate

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  8. I'm feeling a wee bit hungry :-) Lots of deliciousness Johanna, as always! I love your tortilla efforts too - very impressive.

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    1. Thanks Kari - I only showed the good tortilla effort - the others were not so impressive but hopefully with a bit of practice it will improve

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  9. Johanna, your Earl Grey chocolate sounded like a wonderful treat! (So did the salted lime chocolate and Almond Pinstripe...) Do you have a tortilla press or do you roll them out by hand? I haven't achieved the right thickness yet. Try, try again! Loved your fresh produce and grocery finds, as well as your sourdough slashes, but your story about your daughter's lunch was the best! A word of caution on liquid smoke... a little dab'll do ya! ;)

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    1. Thanks Kim - yes we have been spoiled with posh chocolates lately - I don't have a tortilla press - have rolled/pressed my own and still experimenting with how to do it. I quite love my liquid smoke but have always gone easy on it because it has been hard to find rather than because it is too strong - love the smoky favour.

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  10. You have so much going on this month, Johanna. I love how your Sylvia is so excited about starting school and that she's happy to eat the contents of her lunch box. xx

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    1. Thanks Charlie - it has been a busy month - Sylvia is only happy to eat the packed lunch because it is the food she is used to eating at home - I remember school lunches as a kid were always so exciting in the first week or so until it got boring - will see how she goes :-)

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  11. Yay for you! I can't wait to see what you make from PP15!
    Also: I love that Sylvia is excited for school lunches... For years while in school, I had leftover pizza. Every single day. Although, you know, kids don't mind repetition so much of their favourite foods.
    I also look forward to hearing about your tortilla adventures. Rob and I are enamored with corn tortillas after going to Mexico... it will be on our hitlist now for sure. :)

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    1. Thanks Janet - will definitely report back on PP15. Funny you mention leftover pizza as it is on my list of things to make for sylvia. And you are so right about kids and repetition - I think sylvia wishes I would repeat more of her favourite meals rather than trying new ones :-) I too am enamoured with corn tortillas - there is something so pleasingly distinctive about the taste - though the texture is harder to work with.

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  12. Oh, and yippy for liquid smoke! I love that stuff! :)

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  13. I love the carrots! I told my husband a couple of years ago that I would make him any kind of cake he wanted and he chose carrot cake. When I sent him to buy a bunch of carrots, he came home with some that looked like yours. It was hard to grate up such beautiful veg- but I loved that he had an eye for the lovely form! Thanks for sharing- you have so much going on this month- the lunches sound like mini-picnics for your daughter!

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    1. Thanks Heidiannie - that is just the sort of thing my husband would do too - am sure the cake was delicious. Funny you mention about mini picnics - we actually had a few little picnics using the lunchbox a friend gave her (a cooler type container) before she took her lunch to school - the pic in this post is from one of those - watching how much she got through was a good lesson about how much to feed her.

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  14. Earl grey choc looks intriguing!! I'm always on the look out for liquid smoke... Exciting re Sylvia starting school! I bet she will have the best lunches :) my Sylvia is starting pre school in jan so will need to have good lunch ideas 2 days per week. Looking fwd to your posts about school lunches :)

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    1. Thanks Kate - our child care centre has always made the lunches and I have liked that sylvia gets to try someone else's cooking though I sometimes have questioned the vegetarian alternatives - I have also enjoyed not needing to worry about it - will be challenging next year but also means I can bake more for her lunchbox and try new things (oh she probably will just want the same thing over and over!!!)

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  15. Oh, I'm glad you tracked down the liquid smoke! You've reminded me that I must visit the Coburg market one of these days.

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    1. Thanks Cindy - most grateful to you for the tip - and definitely recommend the coburg farmers market - it is a really good one.

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  16. What a lot of wonderful flavours you have in your kitchen and I love the idea of Early grey choccie.
    :-) Mandy

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    1. Thanks Mandy - the earl grey chocolate tasted even better than I expected so highly recommend it

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  17. I'd be lost without my weekly farmers market - the produce that I can get from it is so much nicer than the supermarket! Your bread and slashes are lovely!!

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  18. That IGA is a treasure trove - you have something great from there every month. I like liquid smoke too but a little goes a long way so it's worth the price here (of course, ridiculously cheap in the States). And who I ask you, doesn't love a BBQ shape? My all time and perennial faves. Thanks for the round up.

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  19. Fantastic haul from the markets and the IGA and Christmas tree shapes!! I love a savoury shape but can't remember the last time I had one....off to IGA
    Your bread looks great!
    cheers
    Jason

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  20. Hi there popping in your blog for the first time. The kids and I have made tortilla's and they are fantastic. Check out my blog on the 1st August, 2013. www.oursimpleandmeaningfullife.blogspot.com

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  21. Super lucky streak! Well done :) Well deserved x

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