In My Kitchen, June 2017

In my kitchen and its surrounding leisure zone, we are keeping warm as today’s temperature hovers between 2°C to 14°C. It will get colder. Spending more time indoors, mostly hanging around the old Huon pine table, means efficient heating becomes imperative. One early improvement we made to the kitchen and dining area was the installation of double glazing. This, more than any other home improvement, has been worth the cost. In this much lived in area, the windows face north with narrow overhanging eaves. The house, designed in the 1980s, incorporates some aspects of passive solar principles, whereby the low angle of the winter sun warms the room, with the reverse occurring in the height of summer.

Nectre bakers oven. Australian made, efficient, radiant heat.

Our new wood heater adds another layer of warmth and an appealing glow. Nectre heaters are Australian made and have a great reputation. This bakers oven heats a 10 square space very efficiently. Cooking stock on the top of the heater saves on gas. I look forward to mastering the use of the little oven.

Chilli earrings?

In this warm space, little vignettes of domesticity capture my attention, especially when a few strong shafts of light stream in. I find myself grabbing the camera more often, trying to capture that heavenly baroque light. That, or curling up on a sun bathed couch with a good book. Note that the new interloper, the clothes airer, has been edited out, along with the oversized kitchen table, now cluttered with a deluge of pastimes, paperwork and pencils.

Drying out mandarin and orange peels on or near the wood stove fills the kitchen area with citrus fragrance. The dried peels make great firelighters.

A large express postal bag arrived last week. Peter, who lives in Far North Queensland, sent me an assortment of tropical fruit he picked that morning. The slightly squashed papaya, the rambutan and mangosteen brought the heady perfumes of tropical rainforest to my kitchen. Peter also sent a swag of ginger, galangal and turmeric which grow in plague proportions in his yard. I’ve frozen most of these gems to make an authentic Indonesian curry in the future.

Aromatics from Far North Queensland.

Today I picked all the remaining borlotti beans from the garden. The first frosts of the year will arrive this week: all the green tomatoes need to be gathered and the lemongrass divided and potted up for winter. The borlotti beans prefer Autumn weather. They were sown in late February and matured slowly. I am very pleased with this year’s haul.

Five kilo of Borlotti Beans
Shelling borlotti beans, ruby jewels and scribbled gems, golden husks drying in the morning sun.

There’s a stack of recently acquired cookbooks in my kitchen. To be truthful, there are little stacks of books everywhere in my house. Not mess, I’ll have you know. Decor and Inspiration! Some of these books were found at my favourite second-hand shop: My China by Kylie Kwong cost less than a copy of a weekend newspaper, as did Beverley Sutherland Smith’s The Seasonal Kitchen. Made in Italy by Silvia Colocca was a birthday gift from my sister. I bought Bourke Street Bakery online and am not finding it so useful, and Leanne Kitchen’s Turkey and The Baker also turned up somewhere very cheaply. Now I have to address the lack of bookshelf space.

Some baby Roma tomatoes, the last of the season, ripen on the northern windowsill.

A couple of second-hand items, a matching spotted jug and sugar bowl, found in that same second-hand store now hang out with the white stuff, shells, feathers and dead lizard on my kitchen dresser. As my friend Di would say, ‘Well spotted’.

Blue polka dot jug and sugar bowl. Went for a song.

Thanks Sherry of Sherry’s Pickings for hosting this monthly series. Your new system is working smoothly.

58 thoughts on “In My Kitchen, June 2017”

  1. I was thinking the exact same as Gerlinde–your house looks so very cozy. And I love your little vignettes. Oh, cookbooks–they are my bedtime story books.


  2. Trust you! 11.20 am on the first day of winter 🙂 ! On these Southern Highlands suddenly 1C in the morning with about 16C expected after lunch!! What happened . . . I do not have double glazing or your wonderful stove, so it is a so-called ‘Heatbank’ and two electric oil heaters going already – wimpy, I know!! And someone else can open next month’s Origin bill!! And I must be the stupidest gal in the universe ’cause I paid full price for both Kylie Kwong [love it!!] and Bev SS . . . . hmpph – a lot to learn 🙂 !!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that Origin bill is going to be a whopper. I always get such a shock to see that post winter bill. But we are heading off soon, for a long time so maybe some power might be saved though the family like to have a few party sessions here when we are away.
      I’m such a sucker for second hand books. Come to Mama and they do.


    2. This is Francesca’s sistra trying with frozen fingers to post this message – I think we should all burn our bills this winter to make the place warmer! I have a heatbank upstairs and central gas heating downstairs – costs me my retirement money! Think I’ll have to go live in Vanuatu or Cairns!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So delighted to see my tropical fruit fare made it to the southern chilly climes. And thank you for including our BNB. We have been dabbling with winter cooking as our tropical veggies are ripening. Last night I made lentil and eggplant Moussaka – just yummy. As we eat outdoors all year round we had to rummage to find a few jumpers as it plummeted to 20 oC. However, I do miss having a real winter along with hot soups etc. During the recent very hot and muggy wet tried to stimulate a cold evening so we could enjoy a hot dinner. The one and only air conditioner was set on high – door closed – we then got fully clothed, jumped in the river – shook off and sat in the makeshift dining room to enjoy our hot dinner. It was the most unpleasant experience – very clammy and uncomfortable – I think we might have had too much time on our hands!! We soon learnt that it is far better to take dinner to the river and sit up to our waists and sip and sup – Ahh! Tropical Bliss!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. thanks for joining in IMK this month francesca. glad to see the linky is working. love the look of your heater; not that we really need one here in QLD often. tho it was pretty nippy last night. love your produce and books and anything spotted is a hit with me. i have a few spotted items in my kitchen too. keep warm!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A beautiful post in all ways, Francesca. I love your new stove (am quite envious, actually), and all the other good things in your kitchen. The blue and white polka dots also caught my eye. Thanks for your kind words on my IMK post too xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a delightful collection in your kitchen this month. A friend of mine has just bought the exact same Nectre heater/oven and, like you, is looking forward to playing with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love your kitchen vignettes Francesca, esp the borlotti beans, they have a natural beauty. I’d not move from the kitchen if I had the warmth of a wood stove and the low winter’s sun. Looks very inviting…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Very intriguing cookbooks — Please review them as you try them out! Is “Turkey” about the bird or about the country?

    best… mae at

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Gosh, we had a whisper of winter today but there are no fires in my foreseeable future. Where would we be without a pile of books? I’m reading Madhur Jaffrey’s autobiography from last month’s IMK pile. It’s wonderful. The best book I’ve read in ages. I’ve probably missed my chance for the back garden which is now pretty much in shade but I think I shall give Borlotti beans a go next year as I enjoy them and they are good fresh or dried. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah it’s always so warm in Brisbane and then, with your whispers of winter, just enough for a cardigan. Madhur Jeffries auto sounds good- must look for a copy.


  10. Lovely beans. I don’t know them, will have to keep an eye out for them.

    I used to dry orange and other citrus peels for cooking, but Mumbai is so humid that here fungus finds them before they dry. Maybe I’ll try the air fryer. It’s not as gentle as sun-drying, but maybe it’ll work.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love the warmly lit vignettes of your kitchen, Francesca, and you’re right, the light does have a Baroque look, I’d never thought of that before. I too am envious of your wood stove and the citrus and stock pot aromas. I love winter for all those cosy reasons. When we were young and building our first house I so desperately wanted a straw bale house with deep windowsills and polished concrete floors. In my mind it would have been the perfect house for a sub-tropical climate but builders rolled their eyes. Now that we are preparing to put our present house on the market the Real Estate agent advised me to “de clutter and de-personalise” (he said whilst eyeing the books, note pads, photos, etc”) – it makes the house feel quite hollow.


    1. I know what you mean. This house is made of mudbrick, as was our previous house and has a fair amount of clutter and earthy style. when we first moved into the house, I called it the resort- meaning that it had no personal style and was fairly bare. I hated it and it didn’t feel like home. Now it does, finally. Those agents often advise de-cluttering to make the house look much bigger and to appeal to the younger folk who prefer an Ikea approach to decor. In today, out tomorrow. A good idea would be to stash all your beloved stuff in a rented storage space for a while and get a hire company to put their soulless stuff in- apparently this can boost the price significantly, as do fresh flowers and the smell of freshly brewed coffee.
      As you can tell, I’m an old hippy- orange peel and lentils.
      Are you moving to another district? Smaller or larger?


      1. We’re thinking of moving to the Sunshine Coast hinterland to a town called Malaney. It’s a fair bit above sea level and is generally a bit cooler than the coast and has more of a winter than Brisbane, plus it’s near our grandchildren. Peter is planning to ‘semi’-retire. We’d both like a smaller house with plenty of garden – veggies, for the growing of – and a big man-cave shed:). I particularly like Malaney because it’s got three bookshops! Two secondhand and one new. Bookshops are a disappearing feature of life – at least in Brisbane they are, there are a few good independents but they have to work hard to stay afloat. I remember years ago when we visited Dublin, noting that many shops had security grills outside their windows but bookshops didn’t – that says something about life doesn’t it.


          1. I think it’s spelled Maleny – just remember from living in Brisbane for 17 years. Mapleton next door in the hinterland is absolutely beautiful too – has a very rustic beautiful pub. If I lived on the coast up there I think I would pick Hervey Bay – great for fishing and having a good time catching the boat out to Fraser Island. If you live on the coast in Qld you must be sunsmart, can’t stress that enough.

            Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi my dear friend,

    If you have no trouble opening my site you can ignore this message.
    I messed up my site link. I made a little change and got in big trouble.
    My old site (deleted, that’s why you can’t find me anymore)

    My new site is The Shower of Blessings (the “s” is in different place, so is the link)
    The new link is

    You may have to follow my new site again in order to see me show up in your Reader.
    Sorry for the trouble. Miriam

    I love your kitchen!!


  13. Beautiful polka dots, but I am partial to anything blue. Love how you are making use of those citrus peel as firelighters. I knew someone who did the same with their daily scooped out grapefruit shells, drying them in the AGA. Don’t we all edit the unwanted (clutter, dirt, general ugliness) from our photos? What you do show is a wonderful & cozy atmosphere particularly with that great Australian stove. I especially love the texture and pattern of the footstool cushion. Would also dearly like to know how many borlotti bean plants you had to grow to harvest 5kg.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Around 6 plants produced this load so next year there will be more. It;s touch and go getting the seasons right with borlotti. The little stool is afghani- we have a lovely Afghani man selling stuff at the St Andrews Market.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Beautiful photos Francesca, your fireplace area looks so warm and inviting. I am really interested in your Nectre bakers oven. Have you baked bread in it or do you plan to? We looked at these years ago when we renovated but made other plans in the end. Those aromatics look amazing, especially at this time of the year. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have used the bakers oven for baked vegetables and rice pudding. I am a little wary of using it for bread as I burnt the top of one loaf. Am loving it for cooking stock on top and warming up things. But basically, it is a great and very efficient heater.


  15. Francesca, your “baroque light” and lyrical writing made me feel like I was curled up in a corner of your kitchen surveying the wonder from a lovely vantage point. (A warm one, too, ahhh…) Your stove puts off a cozy glow and I loved your suggestion to dry citrus peels on it to use in it. Lots of color and flavor happening there! Sorry to be commenting so “after the fact” but I’ve been gone and will be gone again shortly. See ya in August! xo


  16. Aha, there you are… your blog dropped off my follows. Fortunately, having missed your presence, despite busyness & visiting family (it’s about 4 am!) I checked your blog. Love the Nectre. TG our kitchen hasn’t the space or we’d be installing one. Inspired by you I’ve been drying peel, ginger, rosemary, chillies etc on the living room wood stove and have made rosemary & lemon salt, lime & chilli salt as well as firelighters. The hall cupboard-pantry looks like a witch’s larder…
    I have the most wonderful memories of our visit to your kitchen… entire home, garden… it is so inviting, warm, alive… and your photos are a lovely reminder ♡


    1. That witchy feeling is so good Dale, finding our roots in little concoctions that otherwise may end up in the compost heap. You are so kind- I really enjoyed your visit last year, and I have been missing your blogs too, though I know you do instagram more these days, one thing I have yet to succumb to and I also know you are busy with the course. Chhers my dear.

      Liked by 1 person

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