In My Kitchen-Be warned, Red everywhere!

What’s in my kitchen this month? Tomatoes, tomatoes and yes, more tomatoes. Thanks again Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for giving us this opportunity to share and have a glimpse into kitchens all around the world. Yep, with tomatoes, you cruise along for a few weeks harvesting at leisure and using beautiful tomatoes one by one for your salads and breakfasts and then bang! Glut time. All at once you become overloaded with these beautiful ruby red, purple, black and pinky orange delights.

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I usually start by sorting them into 3 separate piles, those that I can leave to ripen a bit longer, those nice now and over the next few days and those that must be used now or they will be destined for the chooks! The nice now and for a few more day ones are going onto my pretty new blue plate/bowl.

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I spent this morning making some tomato pickles.

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This pickles is great with meat, eggs and anywhere you would use tomato sauce.

I knocked up a ‘tart au tomato’. I just used some puff pastry as the base, spread some Dijon mustard over and topped with sliced tomatoes, olive oil and thyme. Smells pretty good,  might be lunch this week I think.

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I also made a tomato ‘quichey’ pie dish. First up, a pastry base into which I spread the bit of tomato pickles that didn’t fit into the jars, then came pan-fried tomatoes, zucchini, onion and capsicum with some olive oil, thyme and oregano. IIMG_0181 grated the zest of our first kaffir lime into the mix  too. Gee I love the smell of kaffir lime, it is so heady and aromatic. Oh, there was some chorizo I found in the fridge when I cleaned it out, so that went in as well!

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I dug out my favourite rolling pin to roll out the pastry. I bought this in an op-shop in Tassie about 20 years ago. Kauri pine and beautiful to use. The ‘quichey’ pie looks good and today’s white sourdough loaf  have kept my ‘toy oven‘ jam packed. Two loaves of 50% rye yet to go in today!

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On an exciting note, I have a new sourdough starter, Phoenicia. Celia graciously offered me some of her starter saved from “Priscilla”. How could I refuse? The starter arrived last week and it was only this morning before I’ve had a chance to give it the kiss of life. I’ve named her Phoenicia in honour of the great Phoenician bakers, apparently unrivalled. So now I have Phoenicia, Vessie (after Vesuvius) which are both a white starter and ‘100% rye’ (must think of a name for that! Only a couple of hours in and already signs of life.

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In my kitchen is a very handy bucket. When we were camping our trusty old bucket came to grief and I refused to pay $4.00 for one that looked about as good quality as a chinese food container.  I went into the local bakery and asked if they had any spare fondant buckets. $5.00 later we came out with 2 large 10 litre buckets and this handy little one which is ideal for doing my preferment of bread dough in.

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Well, that’s about all that’s going on In My Kitchen this month. I now have to go and find my passata making equipment as I think that will definitely be a job that needs to be done in the next week or so. But first, some sourdough french toast with a dollop of tomato pickles for lunch.

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Salabat!

Salabat or Ginger Tea Powder.

When we were in Vietnam we had the pleasure of tasting some ginger tea made by one of the locals. It was absolutely delicious, refreshing and zingy, just what we needed to give relief from the heat and humidity. I have been keen to try to make some since our return and the notion that it may assist in relieving nausea spurred me on. With a bit of luck it might give a friend of mine some relief! If not I have no doubt we will enjoy it either as a tea or in some lemonade on a hot day. The description ‘Han’ gave on how to make the tea was that it was very fiddly and time consuming-she was right! I am kicking myself I didn’t take photos while I was cooking but mostly I followed the Salabat making video I found on YouTube and the food recap network . Broken down the method was basically

  • Wash and scrub ginger clean
  • Grate into clean bowl
  • Put grated ginger into food processor and ‘blast’ it
  • Squeeze out as much juice as possible (put processed ginger into cheesecloth and squeeze/wring until no more comes out.)
  • Put juice into wok with equal amounts of brown sugar (must be brown)

The cooking process is pretty much exactly the same as making toffee. While stirring continually  until  boiling, cook until mix reaches cracking stage. Remove from heat, and stir the mix until it turn into powder. This is basically grinding the ginger toffee and I found this part the hardest as it sets like cement really fast. Final result is excellent, very happy and I dried all of the ginger residue left after juicing, zapped it in the spice blender and I now have a great supply of powdered ginger for use in cooking and baking.

Woo hoo, here we go!

After deliberating for ages, I have finally plucked up the courage to have a go at establishing a blog! I live in Gippsland which is about 2 hours east of Melbourne Australia and have a hobby of having a go at growing, cooking and preserving all kinds of foods and beverages. Many years ago I was a successful home cheesemaker but the family got sick of me taking over the entire kitchen (and sometimes the lounge as well) with my processing equipment. That along with upping my work hours to full-time meant I slowed down on the cheese production (and a lot of other things I really enjoyed!). I am keen to get back into cheesemaking and when we move I will  have a dedicated area for my preserving and cheesemaking, this will be called the ‘Fowlers room’ named in honour of the age-old Fowlers Vacola Preserving system. I love growing all kinds of fruit and veg and can’t wait to establish the new produce garden. We have purchased an historical house (1920ish) which needs a major dose of TLC and renovation. The focal point in the backyard of this house is a very old mulberry tree, the aim of this blog is to record and share all that goes on ‘around the mulberry tree’ whether in the garden, in the preserving room or in the renovation of this lovely old property.