In My Kitchen, November 2019

To be frank, my kitchen is often really messy. At times the cleaning tasks seem daunting. But there are some very good reasons, or justifications, for this. The storage is dated and inadequate for my needs, with limited drawer space and old fashioned cupboards with useless dark corners. The benches are too high and cause back, neck and shoulder pain. As the cheap pine cupboard doors become unhinged, I simply rip them off. Better them than me. The white laminate bench tops are in a sorry state: there’s no point replacing them when the whole kitchen needs a total overhaul. My kitchen is no ‘House and Garden’, and hardly instagram worthy, even on a good day. Occasionally I ponder a few pockets of beauty. My eye, like the lens of a camera, is selective. I have a love/hate relationship with my kitchen. It is a slave driver, but then, as I’m very attracted to frugality and seasonal food, a slave I must be.

I’ve retaliated by commandeering most of the laundry for storage, which now houses the larger kitchen machines which aren’t in daily use ( rice cooker, slow cooker, blender, microwave, second fridge ) as well as shelves dedicated to preserves, empty jars for future preserves, potato and onion storage, seasonal garlic bulbs kept in the dark, shelves of cake tins – loved for their shapes, patina and history,-  small moulds and forms for puddings and soufflé, antique Italian coffee pots just because I like them, collected old biscuit tins to send off when full to someone in need, a huge and ancient gelataio, and that insane breeding area for plastic storage containers, the bane of my life, those necessary evil things, often missing their lids. This area, an annex to my kitchen, is indispensable and strangely, most of the stuff gets used.

In My Kitchen, the tasks seem endless. If I’m home, my annoying but workable kitchen is put to the test all day. Produce from the garden or market is preserved, conserved, frozen, dried, pickled, bottled, and brined. Today I dealt with the olives I picked back in April this year. The lidded 14 kilo container, a throw out icing container from the local bakery, sat in the kitchen for 7 months full of curing olives. Today they moved into jars, and although still a little bitter, it is an old style Greek taste that grows on you. We were forced to pick last season’s olives when green, thanks to the marauding birds that sampled most of the olives before spitting them out on the ground. I’ve always admired how smart some birds are, but I do wonder when it comes to olives, why the birds must try each and every one. Last April’s olives were not as plump as usual, given the low rainfall. I followed the very simple method given here by Mt Zero Olives.

Finally in the jars

I put aside a jar of my preserved lemons last June and have just pulled them out from a dark cupboard. I use chopped preserved lemon in salmon patties, couscous, and add them to smashed baby potatoes, the latter a very nice side dish with fish.

Preserved lemons. Tucked away for months, now ready to enjoy

It’s a fortuitous day at the market when there’s a huge snapper carcass to be had for two dollars. Snapper makes the best stock, so long as the gills and all traces of blood are removed before cooking. Into the pot he goes, along with some wine, onion and some aromatics. Once cooked, the stock is then labelled and frozen, to be married later on to a good Carnaroli rice, and perhaps a handful of prawns.

Great to see this good quality Carnaroli rice stocked locally at the Hurstbridge Deli and Larder.

Other fishy preserves this month included anchovies under oil, a time consuming labour of love, the recipe outlined in my previous post here. Acciughe sott’olio is a great addition to a board full of different antipasti for lunch.

As young ginger is now in season at the market, it’s time to make pickled ginger, another lovely condiment that improves with time, which will be a welcome addition to the table in summer, although I do know a young girl who enjoys pink pickled ginger straight from the jar. There is always a seasonal herb, vegetable, fruit or fish to dry, pickle or preserve in some way.  I’m happily a martyr to the cause, and will be ready for Armageddon, or at least, Armageddon hungry.

Header photo, Pumpkin risotto with crispy sage leaves. Time to use up the remaining stored pumpkins from last Autumn. They are now at peak ripeness.

Thanks Sherry for hosting this monthly series, which can be found at Sherry’s Pickings.

22 thoughts on “In My Kitchen, November 2019”

  1. Your first para description in many ways resembles my recycled kitchen, which is better appreciated after the morning sun finishes shining brightly through windows I never can get clean. The linen cupboard in the adjacent hallway is pantry #2 and it overflows to a wardrobe in the spare-room, storage overflows to various cupboards around the house, and shelves in the shed. 1930’s houses were not built to accommodate stuff that wasn’t around until decades later. The G.O. offered to fit a new modular kitchen but I like this one; a new kitchen in this old house would look weird… and I’d have to spend time keeping it looking shmicky rather than devoting my efforts to the kitchen witchery I love… thanks to your inspiration. I have a jar of salted lemons in the making in the fridge… not game enough to consign them to a cupboard, and as well as trying your suggestions am looking forward to smooshing the rinds and mixing with Kewpie, apparently a great accompaniment to pretty much anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm must try them with Kewpie, which could be a private indulgence as Mt T isn’t partial to mayo generally. I had the potato and preserved lemon rind smash up in Mission Beach last year and became an instant convert. So when I opened this batch, it was the first thing I made. Love a salty lemony zing. Am working on a recipe of sorts, maybe with some added dried oregano.
      All the pics of your place look so real and comfortable and inviting. Love that your kitchen stuff spreads to other rooms. Priorities means no time for shmicky business. Kitchen witchery is the term for the magic we weave with a few herbs and other sticks and stems. Out damn spot.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Your motivation is pretty full on- your passion for bread and sourcing good grain and conducting sourdough classes, being a good Nana, renovating the house, running the FB sourdough site, a huge job with lots of crazy questions to answer nicely, and not after 3 vinos.

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  2. I see the theme this month appears to be preserved lemons. I don’t know why, but I just don’t like preserved lemons. I’m not sure why as I enjoy lemons and anything salty but something happens in the chemistry which means I don’t like the end product. You’re very committed with the anchovies – that’s a lot of work. A bountiful time in your kitchen and garden.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Two appearances by the preserved lemon department on IMK. Yes. Last year fresh lemons virtually disappeared thanks to the drought and other climate factors. I remember feeling really desperate at one point, having to pay $2 for a single lemon. My own lemons didn’t bear fruit, and this was replicated around the state or states. From that time, I vowed to keep preserved lemons on hand for that lemony hit when needed in a dish.
      Think of the salty lemon taste as a solid form of a margarita.

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  3. Well, when I get around to making some preserved lemons, now I have a lot of new ways to try eating them! More motivation to do it. As lemons don’t grow within 1000 miles of here, they are “in season” all the time, so i can make them when I feel like it. Thanks for all the inspiring thoughts on kitchens!

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There was a point last year when all the local lemon supplies disappeared and we suddenly had to pay an arm and a leg for one lemon. I felt really desperate and realised that this might be a sign of things to come.

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    1. I know, just had to have a big whinge. But I definitely appreciate that I am very fortunate , I have too many things, fresh water and eat well. So many people in the world don’t have this, so no more martyr stories from me. Besides, martyrs have a habit of ending life badly.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your kitchen sounds like mine, Francesca. We redid our kitchen at work–all stainless steel and white surfaces. It looks like a science lab. My kitchen is old and whoever buys my house when I am gone will have fun gutting it and doing a major overhaul. But for me, it is my comfort zone, so it stays–warts and all.

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    1. Comfort zone- that’s a positive way to look at it. I think the main deterrent in doing a kitchen reno is the cost. I would need a serious mortgage to do a good job, so this kitchen will ‘see me out.’

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  5. After a delightful Sunday cannelloni lunch my kitchen is far from tidy and since my laundry seems to be part of bathroom there is no easy way out of the situation 🙂 ! Of all the goodies on show do have homemade preserved lemons but would be most enchanted to be handed a big snapper carcass for a pot of strong fish stock for so many uses . . . Appreciate you pickling ginger . . . found a blogfriend had posted a pickled chilli one yesterday . . . shall try first . . . hope the end of this daywill bring the end of four days of living in bushfire haze: incredible that it can travel so many hundred kilometres . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. hi francesca
    thanks for joining in IMK this month. i enjoy seeing all your thriftiness! i have a walk-in pantry which holds a lot of food stuffs, spices etc and i have a shelf in there for the food processor, blender etc but i would love a butler’s pantry/scullery added on. one day… that’s interesting about your olives. i only get a small amount of olives from my tree, and i put them in brine for about 2 weeks i think. an old italian neighbour told me once that mine were better than hers! kate young blogs under The little library cafe, btw. cheers sherry

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hey Francesca … what a great post! Thanks for the link to the olive recipe .. do you add herbs or garlic to your brew? I froze some lemons yesterday which I will preserve. I use a recipe of Greg Malouf’s .. it’s a keeper! Love the idea of adding them to salmon patties and spuds. Clever girl … pickled ginger got me!! 👏👏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Miss Julie. Any Greg Malouf recipe is a good recipe. I follow the Mr zero recipe, then put in jars, also brined. Then when they seem ready, I jazz them up with herbs and oil. After writing this post, I found a stash of old olives from 2017, and 2018. They are the best. Lashings of dried oregano for ne.
      The young ginger is down to $6 a kilo. I had to do something. Xx

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