In My Kitchen, June 2020

Sometimes it occurs to me that writing about food seems inconsequential, perhaps even pointless, when the world has become so dark. I’m also aware that blogging is a pastime for the well- off, those like me who have more time, money, food, and housing security than most people in the world. As our world staggers from one disaster to the next, the deep and underlying fissures in society are being exposed. Environmental disasters caused by climate inaction, the current pandemic which has not yet run its course, imbecilic, corrupt and dangerous national leadership in many countries, shifts in global trading patterns, a potential American civil war, ongoing structural and institutional racism, gender inequality and political manipulation in the elections in so called democracies- the list of modern ills seems infinite. The only safe place is in the kitchen, where the focus is directed towards family, nourishment, and the preservation of ancient food cultures.

Although I’m still reticent to venture out, especially for the time wasting amusement gained by shopping for more things I don’t need, whether they are new or pre-owned, I have enjoyed buying a few things online, including some kitchen ware, and may continue to shop this way in the future. I was also delighted when some social gathering restrictions were eased and I could see my family again. No hugs yet but at least we can eat and drink in the same room. We have also enjoyed one dinner away from home with friends. Sitting at distant ends of the table, the large vegetarian lasagne was a joy to behold and eat- at last something not made by me or Tranquillo.

Zuppa cereale, made with freekeh.

My granddaughter, Daisy, has been a delightful presence in my kitchen. “Can I help?”or “What are you cooking?” are some of her words that I love to hear, as is the sound of her small cooking stool being dragged into place at the bench. She chops, crumbs, mixes, and tastes for correct seasoning and balance. She prefers anchovies to sweet things, and can wax lyrical about her favourite dish, a white bean and silver beet soup. From the age of two, her refined sense of smell has led her to the kitchen: she’s a natural chef with a strong desire to learn. Now that she is ‘allowed’ to come here for her home schooling, we’ve enjoyed more time together in the kitchen: this has been the up side of the pandemic for me. After we finish the set school tasks, we reward ourselves with some good cooking. Last week she made her own Kolokithopita, mastering the triangular shape, while I rabbited on about equilateral triangles, trying to slip in some math. Kolokithopita is a Greek pie stuffing using pumpkin. I simply substitute some oven baked pumpkin for the spinach in a spanakopita recipe, adding lots of fresh herbs and chopped spring onions. Daisy likes making these mainly because of the smell of the warm melted butter used to paint the pastry sheets. What a nose.

Daisy at 10, with her fillo parcels. 2020
Daisy shelling beans, 3 years old,Β  2013

I’ve been baking sourdough bread for 7 years, with four loaves baked weekly along with three large tray pizzas which are delivered to my extended family each Wednesday. Storage of flour and baking equipment was becoming a huge problem, along with RSI in my arms caused by the unusually high kitchen benches. I’ve been longing for a kitchen renovation but am fearful of the expense involved. The solution came in the form of an online purchase of an Ikea stainless steel trolley and a large bread making board. The lot is now wheeled to my dining table where I can work at the right height for dough handling, which for me is around 75 cms.

Cheaper than a kitchen reno.

The lime trees are still covered with fruit. This week I’ve begun an Indian style lime pickle. Below, a bowl of sliced and salted limes, waiting for the next step. Meanwhile, home grown lemons are preserved in salt. Ancient preservation traditions from India to the Middle East.

One of my favourite pasta dishes in winter is Pantacce, bietola, gorgonzola e noce. I found a small piece of blue cheese hiding in the fridge, which I melted into some cream, tossed in a handful of toasted walnuts, and cooked the chopped silver beet briefly in the same pot as the pasta. The components came together in a deep frying pan. A more precise recipe can be found on my post here.

Pantacce, gorgonzola cream, silver beet, walnuts

I posted these Friday Night Indian potatoes last week here: they were popular, and can be whipped up in no time.

Rye sourdough, with unusual scoring. Almost an indigenous pattern?

Thanks Sherry once again for hosting this series on Sherry’s Pickings.

31 thoughts on “In My Kitchen, June 2020”

  1. I’ve just spent several minutes immersed in this post, enjoying stories about food and young Daisy and planning to cook. It was such a nice ‘time out’ – especially as i’m sitting in a chilly waiting room and trying to block out a very loud voiced person even though she’s at the required distance! So thank you, Francesca and more power to your blogging arm. I too utilised one of those Ikea tables – great aren’t they.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your kitchen seems so warm! I love to be there through your writing and photos.

    Do the limes grow near to you? I just made Moroccan preserved lemons though my fruits are from the supermarket, and had to travel some very long distance to get here. Our very short seasonal growing time is starting now, so we’ll be able to eat a bit more local produce, as you seem able to do for much of the year.

    be well… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A very late reply Mae. The limes grow in my orchard- I have four trees now, far too many, and around 80 fruit trees in total.Your district must be quite chilly to have a short season. I guess you must be enjoying it right now,

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  3. i love the story about daisy. how fantastic to have her around to cook with you. love your photos too. i’m very lucky in that when we bought this house years ago, we had the kitchen renovated and hubby made sure that the benches were lower than normal for me the shortie. May be a problem when we sell but who cares? πŸ™‚ The pasta looks great, and the potatoes and the bread. so is shopping online a new thing for you? oddly i used to do heaps online but since covid, i’ve bought almost nothing. i am starting to make up for it tho. take care
    cheers
    sherry

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  4. This is a beautifully written post and an absolute delight to read. It encompasses world issues and then brings us gradually into the warmth and aroma of the family kitchen and Daisy. It made an already lovely sunny day even more lovely, thank you for this gift.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reading this, all is well in my world, however brief. I so enjoy these kitchen posts, Francesca. What a joy cooking with Daisy. Only one of my kids–my son–enjoys cooking. I love nothing more than to have a conversation with him about what he made for dinner for he and his girlfriend. It is the best!

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  6. How wonderful to have a budding chef of a grandchild in Daisy. She will have memories for a lifetime. And I am so impressed by your scoring of the loaf! My kitchen counters are borderline too high as well, they would have been even worse if my 6′ 4″ contractor had his way.

    Thank you for your words about the state of the world, it is distressing and the kitchen is a comfort. Stay well and safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those tall blokes who build kitchens- it’s so hard to make them understand. I hope your benches are at the right height for you. Yes, Daisy remembers everything about food- and so I try to slip in a bit of maths on the way- fractions, perimeters, areas, when dealing with cake tins.

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  7. I am now thinking about what to cook for dinner and I’ve not long had breakfast. Your photos are such a pleasure. And have to add, how precious the photos of Daisy are, now with such skill but aged 3 so sweet!

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  8. Your kitchen is always a comforting, interesting place to visit Francesca. Your granddaughter looks and sounds like a fantastic cook. Its funny that you say she like anchovies. My daughter is 13 and attends boarding school. The school food adequate but what you might expect from a large, commercial cooking operation. I notice when she is home she is always looking for salty things; anchovies, olives, salami, even beetroot and parsnip etc. I think its because school food is quite bland. You have reminded me how good lime pickle is, I need to make some. Your bread bench is genius and looks very practical.

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    1. I imagine institutional food would be fairly bland, albeit healthy, in order to cater for all tastes- or those with no taste? Your daughter sounds just like Daisy- adventurous in taste buds and used to a wide range of foods. Very happy with my Ikea breadbench.

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  9. Finally I have managed to read your post and find that the sentiments therein once again echo my own. So much to love in this post, Daisy’s smile foremost, the tempting information that Ikea is online, the gift of finding a piece of blue cheese in the fridge that needs using up… with walnuts and silver beet…oooh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dale. yes, Daisy is a special girl and I often feel like stealing her. Mine please, but her mother just laughs. Fridge find are an inspiration, especially when the garden is a bit lack lustre.

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  10. Hey Francesca … your food posts are always fabulous! And what about Daisy .. what a treasure. I can just imagine her helping you in the kitchen. I’m a spanakopita fan .. bet I would love Daisy’s triangles stuffed with pumpkin! I’m in the throes of fermenting limes for Indian pickle, plus I have frozen others so I can preserve them! πŸ‘πŸ‘

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Francesca, your beautiful granddaughter Daisy will have wonderful memories of times spent with you and the recipes you cook together. Your sourdough bread looks amazing and love the scoring too πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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