In My Kitchen, March 2020

It’s impossible to write about my kitchen without reference to my productive vegetable garden and orchard- the two are so closely entwined. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, which is now over 6 years old, you may have noticed that my kitchen and cooking posts tend to focus on fresh produce. This is the essence of what food is about for me, the excitement and challenge of cooking radiating from the daily pick. As this season has been bountiful, my urge to work in the garden has strengthened. While others of my age often consider downsizing, I’m considering expanding the garden beds. Vegetable gardening is not only for food: it’s my yoga and gym, my meditation space and fantasy land.

One of the more exciting plant discoveries this year has been the Turkish snake chilli, a prolific bearer, and a kinky pepper to pick ( an old alliteration riddle comes to mind). A long and thin lime green pepper, it has a tendency to curl back on itself, looking a lot like whirling dervish, or a green man in a turban. One in 10 peppers will be hot, making them an interesting substitute for Pimento de Padron, the Russian roulette of peppers, when cooked in the same way.  Unlike the Padron peppers, which are tricky to germinate and slow to mature in my climate, the Turkish snake peppers grow well here and fruit early in the season.

Turkish Snake peppers, scorched and lightly blistered in hot olive oil, served with salt flakes.

The only unusual product I’ve bought recently, and one that is worth sharing, is this delightful stone ground flour from Tuerong farm, which featured recently on Gardening Australia. The farm is located in the Mornington Peninsula hinterland and is dedicated to growing small crops of heritage French and Australian wheat varieties. You can view the episode here.  The flour is available at Tuerong farm, or at Hawke’s farm in Boneo, or online, though it’s not always available. The khorasan makes a beautiful loaf.

I like soup at any time of the year, and each season brings new flavours to the table. When fresh local corn becomes available, I love to make this chowder. We call it ‘cholesterol corn soup’, given its butter, cream and cheese content, perfect for the first seasonal chill. The recipe comes from an old edition of The Vegetarian Epicure, by Anna Thomas, 1972, back in the day when the ‘C ‘word wasn’t such a worry. I’ve never fiddled with the original, so soothing and comforting is this dish.

Corn and cheddar cheese chowder

Another recent chowder occurred when I discovered some big, fat tiger prawns in my freezer- remnants of the festive season. This one was a splurge, requiring a small smoked haddock as well.

Smoky chowder, with smoked haddock, leek, potato and prawn.

This season, I have developed a passion for photography, and tend to photograph the daily pick in the same little spot in my living room, where the light is moody and a little dark. Most of these photos land on my Instagram page, @morgan.francesca each day, and may account for my overall slackness in writing. As I pay a princely sum for this WordPress page, it’s time I got back to writing more frequently, though I can see why many take the easier, often wordless, option of Instagram. Time to return to the word image.

Jonathon apples, the second variety to harvest.
Early pears, not the best keepers.
Breakfast for a queen. Porridge with poached quince.
Let the grape harvest begin.

A monthly link up event, focusing on kitchen happenings, takes place via Sherry’s Pickings. The theme can be interpreted loosely. Through this monthly blogging event, I’ve met some wonderful kindred spirits.


22 thoughts on “In My Kitchen, March 2020”

  1. Almost a decade ago Facebook nearly took over my life time wise. I got out and swore black and blue that a small lifestyle and cooking blogroll would be IT ! A year ago plus Roger Stowell’s wonderful photography led me to Instagram – I love it, but so miss the writing of people like you and Roger. Yes, please when you can make the time !! Meanwhile have seen many of these photos on IG and envied your work an subsequent results . . . and, at the moment, smiled at all those horrid cruisers passing your summer vacation spot . . . those which would not suit your preferences at all 🙂 ! So, have the photos but would love the recipes and some of your delicious wry humour to boot !! . . . By-the-bye: just waiting for a techie to connect my ‘new’ computer, so if I am silent awhile – may be a slow ;earner . . . best . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your photos show your produce so beautifully, I always enjoy your images and the changing of seasons which is so opposite of ours. As your climate is milder, this is the time of year when soup is good in both northern and souther hemispheres, and I’d love to taste either of your preparations.

    best… mae at

    Liked by 1 person

  3. i love all your beautiful photos here francesca. they show off the produce so well. i too use instagram and really love it but my blog allows me to express myself in other ways. how lucky we are these days to have social media that gives us the opportunity to use our creative skills. cheers and thanks for joining in, sherry

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am viewing your harvests as food for my soul after my frustration at not having anything coming from our patch. Glad you like Jason’s flour, we really need to get a few more farmers on board.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So sorry to hear about your poor crops this year. It has been the strangest of summers and for us, the wettest too, after that frightening start. Our garden is now 10 years old, and has a life and microclimate of its own. If only my house received the same attention!. Jason’s flour is sensational, I hope to visit the farm next week.


  5. The Vegetarian Epicure–I have volumes one and two. Both held together by rubber bands and luck from so many years of use. Please hurry back soon, Francesca. I so love your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Simple. Soup. Superb. In MY kitchen… I often think… What would Francesca do? Our harvests are far more modest but we make the most of them as you have inspired me to do. And, have deemed it The Year of Soup. Even the G.O. Yes! And he has agreed to taste stir-fried eggplant I’m making myself for dinner tonight. Even if the weather means I’m inside rather than out as it has done for the past days, and still… the house does not get the keeping the garden does.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello Francesca .. a delightful post! My garden is my yoga, gym and fantasy land and lately somewhere I find myself pondering what on Earth is eating my spinach, silver beet, beetroot tops and sorrel? Possums that’s what .. they are in trouble! I love your photos and your produce my friend looks amazing! How I wished I lived down the road .. I’d zip Over for some of that chowder .. and bring a nice Sauv Blanc with me 😄👏

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your photography is beautiful, I often try to photograph meals to send my daughter they are never as nice as this. In lockdown in Nice, France and tomorrow I must shop as I have been in for 9 days. Plenty in the freezer but fresh fruit and veg on the shopping list. I’m going to use some of your recipes. Stay well!

    Liked by 1 person

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