In My Kitchen, June 2019

Winter is a tricky business. Throughout June, winter is still a novelty. Everyone walks around saying how much they love wood fires, barley soup, root vegetables, scarves, knitting and red wine, and how pleased they are that scary old summer is finally over. With the lowest rainfall on record, the first four months of 2019 were quite unpleasant, the ongoing drought finally breaking in May. These cold wet days are very welcome. Our garden sings once again. And yet I know that this love affair won’t last. By July, me, my bones and I, will want to fly to a warmer zone to dodge the worst of it. I’ll enjoy the remainder of this month and then I’m packing my bags.

Kitchen Garden

A visit to my kitchen is often preceded by a spin around the orto, my vegetable patch out the back that inspires most of my cooking.

A winter vegetable garden is often more productive than those of warmer months. While many Australians enjoy growing summer crops such as tomatoes, winter crops are a reliable source for salads and soup ingredients. I never let my beds lie fallow- if unoccupied, they are planted out with broadbeans ( fava) or filled with garlic, a crop that takes 6 months to mature. In my kitchen garden is abundant lettuce, ( spicy red Mizuna, Cos, Curly leaf, Endive, Bronze, Rugola), and self sown radicchio turning crunchy crimson. Cavolo nero, the Prince of winter, grows darker- a plant that thrives in cold weather. As the first frost has not yet arrived, chilli, tomatoes, basil and beans hang on bravely. Young turnips and radishes slowly plump: their leaves can be used as wild greens with pasta. Self sown leeks have been moved into position while wild mustard and celery appear in the pathways. Thanks to well rotted, mature compost, the winter vegetable garden is booming.


Books and winter go hand in hand. I was planning to stick to library books for inspiration but a few purchases have crept through the door. The cost of a good second hand cookbook is usually less than half the price of a new magazine. Savers second hand store provides most of my cheap finds, while the Book Grocer is a great source of remaindered books.

Library books on trial. Happy to return all of these except Australian fish and Seafood, which is a superb, and Tartine, which is a great read for those who love sourdough bread baking. The two books by Meera Sodha were disappointing and Eat at the Bar by Matt McConnell was a quick enjoyable read but happy to return it.
New books purchased for $4 each. Two Diana Henry books are a delight to read, and while I don’t think I’ll cook from the recipes. they are good examples of excellent food writing. Magic soups on the other hand excels in food styling.
Second hand finds of note. The timeless classic, Turquoise, by Greg and Lucy Malouf, Neighbourhood, by Hetty McKinnon, modern vegetarian share food, and the Baker by Leanne Kitchen, old fashioned classics


I love warm grains in winter and farro is definitely my favourite. I used to buy Italian farro at the Mediterranean wholesalers, but now find Mount Zero Farro much tastier. Found at my nearby Deli and Larder.


Many species of fish are at their peak in winter. The snapper were almost jumping at the Preston market last week, along with a winter specialty, a rare item, small gutted cuttlefish. I bought one large snapper carcass to make fish stock to freeze, one snapper to bake, and 1/2 kilo of cuttle fish to freeze. Five fishy meals for $19. I was very happy with this baked snapper recipe from Neil Perry. We devoured young Roger the Snapper with gusto.

Roast potatoes to accompany fish.

Road Trips

No road trip is complete without a tin of home made biscuits and a thermos. These chocolate, date and almond biscotti came along on a road trip way out west, past silos and deserts, wine country and isolated, melancholic towns. Travelling through the Wimmera and the South Australian wine district of Coonawarra during winter is inspiring. The light is silver, the red liquid rewards numerous.

Kitchen Table

I’ve been tempted with the idea of downsizing. Clearing out junk is very satisfying, but when I advertised our 2.8 metre long kitchen shearer’s table on the local Buy, Swap and Sell sites, I received a blunt message from my daughter in capitol letters. WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I sheepishly replied that our table was far too big for our needs but soon realised that on an average day, the kitchen table is covered with stuff-  laptops, phones, books, notebooks, lists, baskets of fruit and vegetables from the garden, bowls of sourdough slowly fermenting, a teapot and more. The table ad was withdrawn.


In another cosy corner of the Kitchen cum dining room live the wool supplies. They have gathered here to remind me how enriching winter can be. My yarn stories can be found here

Discards for small projects, found at op shops.

Thanks Sherry for hosting this monthly series at Sherry’s Pickings. There’s always more going on in a kitchen than in any other room in the house. 

I am slowly being converted to the joys of Instagram. Less demanding than my blog posts, my pictorial pastimes can be found at @morgan.francesca

31 thoughts on “In My Kitchen, June 2019”

  1. As usual your kitchen offerings look sensational–that garden! I lost all my herbs and many other plants in the extreme heat this summer so have replanted a few herbs that should survive winter. We have had several 0 and 1 degree nights and this morning it is -1! Next week will be warmer and then down we go again. Soups are my favourite in cold weather, but that fish, the roasted potatoes and the biscotti would certainly be looked into! Thank you Francesca.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We just returned from an inland trip where the mornings were really cold. Our frosty mornings haven’t arrived yet. I recall the last time we stayed in Alice,the overnight low was – 4c. good luck with the herbs Ardys.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sitting on the verandah in the wet tropics, it’s pouring, it’s cold, we’re wearing tracks dax and hoodies sans uggies and yes we’re loving it after a very long muddy wet season. So we’re off to the farmers market in hope of replicating your yummy winter dishes. Such a treat to pick and choose from hundreds of varieties of fresh produce, yack with like-minded foodies, sample foreign fare then return to the kitchen and make and bake. The crock pot is getting a good workout, my herbs are in abundance and cooking music will be loud. Bon apetite

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a delightful newsy post to read on a cold and cloudy Saturday morning – one night of rain amongst months of sunshine here does not count ! Good and not so good! Next task to travel to Instagram and become part of your readership there : I don’t post but love to read ! Also determined to put my hands on Meera Sodhas books at long last and have to find out whether Book Grocer is on line ? Living at the end of the line in the country other matters frustrate 🙂 ! No libraries to visit in the neighbourhood, no fresh fish unless a friend arrives from Sydney and no possibility of garden beds for vegetables I’d love to grow as this is a parkland gated village with no fences or land we personally own !! Pots around the house manage herbs and summer bounty but . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh dear ! I well know that I always have been and always will be an IT dunce: but have been trying to reach your Instagram feed a number of times today with total failure: yes, I have been careful on the keyboard. A couple with your address avec/sans the full stop but definitely not you . . . well, tomorrow we’ll try again . . . 🙂 !

      Liked by 1 person

        1. *smile* Oh, so am I ! Found a post of Dale’s which said ”mongan’ and not ‘morgana’ and arrived safe and sound to some interesting fare !!


  4. I’m sitting in debilitating heat waiting for a delayed monsoon. In this season it is mainly salads and mango for us. Reading about your winter garden brought back almost forgotten memories of cooler weather. Nice book suggestions. I’ll take a look.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your wonderful photos and words are a welcome diversion regardless of the platform… but your pics are perfect for Insta, they are standout. So happy to see in my Insta feed! I love the quick catch ups and community of many of my favourite people. Your intro made me laugh… Me too. I enjoy and plan for all the delights of winter. And sometimes after a while wish I could wander off to warmer climes. Amazing that your op-shops have great cook book offerings… though it would challenge my available shelf space. I’m glad you kept the table… had I the space I would have been tempted… especially if you delivered it… but it works far better in your home than it would mine. As always I am inspired by my vicarious visits to your kitchen and garden

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelves are quite optional for books when you have pianos, tables, bedside tables oh, and the floor. I had been lusting after that turquoise book for some years.
      The table is ridiculous really but it dies come in handy. One day we’ll sand it back to reveal the lovely huon pine underneath.
      Thanks for your kind words as always Dale, and I’m enjoying seeing all my sisters on Insta, such fun.


  6. What a lovely post. I’m sorry about your drought. We had the opposite. But oddly enough, also cooler temperatures, which is strange and unheard of. By April 1st I’m usually already complaining about the heat and humidity, and just now this week it’s gotten hot and humid, but not even as bad as it should be. My garden is enjoying the weather as well, which is the only thing that gets me through summer here, like I have a choice! I’m just a fall-winter gal. And I love everything you mentioned – barley soup, scarves, fires…


  7. Signora your winter garden looks amazing. I’m with you on winter, I’m a warm climate girl, my knees do not fare well in the cold (a gift I inherited from Mamma Rosa).
    Is that Tartine book the Tartine in San Francisco? I have been there – the morning bun is something else. I was going to try and make it but it’s a three day process – quicker for me to fly there and get one, though of course not cheaper!
    Love your daughter’s comment on the table, I’m with her. What would you do when the nipotini come over! I haven’t been blogging much of late, just too many distractions and totally over our crappy rental kitchen. The countdown is on…….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stay strong signorina, won’t be long. I remember a kitchen reno that dragged on for 18 months, we cooked in a little cottage outside with an old fashioned stove with two burners on top and the fireplace. Renis are so painful. This explains your absence from blogging
      but once you’re back in your dream kitchen, i expect a monthly cake like the old days. And a few mama Rosa tales.
      Yes, it is that famous Tartine.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Francesca
    I tried To find you in Instagram but I couldn’t find an entry under the name you have given. Any clues for me? Thanks so much for joining in IMK this month – much appreciated. Really love all your photos; they are so well lit and attractive. I really love the painting on the wall next to your dining table too. Your Garden produce as always looks lovely and tasty. And so many wonderful cookbooks you have. Must check out that fish and seafood one And How delicious does that whole snapper look! Oh and those potatoes… have a great month. Cheers Sherry

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sherry, thanks for letting me know about the Instagram entry dilemma. Must check out what the score is. Being new to this app, I’m a bit in the dark and just feeling my way as i go. And thanks for checking out my littke offerings this month and continuing to host the series. Much appreciated.


    1. I have a few of Malouf’s books but i think Turquoise is the best. I am now very intrigued to find out more about your former working career in Melbourne Julie. Chef, pub owner, hmmm, we must get together one day. X

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I feel warmer just for visiting your kitchen Francesca! Great books finds! Your kitchen table is beautiful. We also have a very large table that my husband made from recycled timber. Despite its size it is almost always covered in Lego, various cooking projects, mail etc! Homely I guess! Just about to find you on Instagram.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love Roast Figs Sugar Snow. It’s a magical book to flick through and I’ve actually made some recipe from it. I also have Turquoise – how lucky to get it 2nd hand. I use the pide recipe from there. Ha ha – love the message from your daughter. I like to divest myself of stuff too but a good table (and man) is hard to find so when you have one, keep it!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What wonderful offerings in your kitchen Francesca. So glad you didn’t sell your beautiful table that I am sure holds so many memories of home cooked meals and family chatter. Love the chairs too. Your garden produce looks amazing. Wonderful to have a libaray with cookbooks to borrow, something that we don’t have where I live.

    Liked by 1 person

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