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Archive for the ‘In My Kitchen’ Category

Old Bob, our 90cm freestanding Smeg cooker, has been replaced.

After sixteen years of faithful service, working above and beyond the temperatures and hours he was rated for, Bob finally wore out. One of the back fan elements stopped working a month or so ago and it wasn’t going to be a simple fix.

Now, as you know, I don’t like replacing appliances, but Pete the electrical engineer pointed out that we’d run Bob so hard that we’d started to melt the insulation off the electrical wiring. Once something becomes a fire risk, it’s time to upgrade…

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The problem was…I didn’t want an upgrade.

According to Pete, Bob’s longevity was due to his old school construction. Unlike newer ovens, he operated solely on fuses and mechanical switches – there were no electronic components or circuit boards to break down. And because he was a commercial model, his parts were easily replaceable – over the sixteen years that we had him, we’d changed both rear elements at least three times, the fan motors twice, the door seal once, and the lights half a dozen times. He was going to be a hard act to follow.

It took a bit of research, but we finally found our replacement cooker. The problem was that the model we wanted (Smeg SA9010X) was now a “commercial only” product, which meant we weren’t allowed to buy one new.

Thankfully, we were able to find a seconds model (dented but otherwise new) at Home Clearance in Auburn. Hooray! The online advertised price was $2,200 (full commercial price is close to $3,000) but when I rang, their end of financial year sale was on and we were able to get Bobby II for just $1,700. He came with a one year manufacturer’s warranty, the company was happy to take our credit card over the phone, and delivery was free. We were thrilled.

Best of all, Bobby II is virtually identical to Old Bob, which means he fits perfectly into the space in our kitchen. We’ll be able to strip out the old cooker and keep the racks, trays, elements, fans, burners and trivets as spares. It’s as environmentally-friendly an upgrade as we can manage…

Big Boy and I have a grand plan to turn the stainless steel shell of Old Bob into a hot smoker – I’ll let you know if we’re successful. In the meantime, the kitchen is open again and the bread is baking! ♥

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In my kitchen…

…are cheat’s crostolis, made by deep-frying a packet of dumpling wrappers and tossing them in icing sugar mixture…

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In my kitchen…

…were old friends who joined me for a marathon hot cross bun baking session on Easter Saturday. Carol and I have been friends for over 30 years but Anita, Helen and I go back even further – we were in school together in 1975!

We made 96 buns in total that day!

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In my kitchen…

…were dark chocolate salted caramel popcorn Easter eggs, inspired by my friend Choclette’s post

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In my kitchen…

…are silk scarves made from vintage kimono scrap, found in the backroom at Cash Palace. Some of the pieces date from before the Second World War…

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In my kitchen…

…was a mountain of spent vanilla pods, which I’d saved over the past decade from bottles of homemade vanilla extract. I couldn’t bring myself to throw away such a valuable resource, even after most of the goodness had been used up, so I’d carefully saved them in an empty bottle at the back of the linen closet.

Last week, I scraped out all the remaining seeds…

…and rubbed them into three kilos of white sugar. The boys are pretty happy to have vanilla sugar again for their tea…

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In my kitchen…

…were four free-range chicken carcasses, purchased from Haverick Meats for $1 each. As most butchers only take off the breasts, thighs, drumsticks and wings, there’s always a heap of meat left on the backbone. I pressure cooked two of the carcasses for stock, then carefully picked the meat for soup.

The remaining two were roasted to create a darker stock. They too went into the pressure cooker, but not before I ate the bishop’s noses – my favourite part…

Before cooking, I removed all the fat and skin from the bones – this was gently rendered into schmaltz and stored in the fridge.  We ended up with six boxes of stock, two jars of schmaltz and chicken noodle soup for five adults. That’s a pretty good result for $4!

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In my kitchen…

…after our marathon hot cross bun baking session, were four fledgling chefs, cooking up a Korean BBQ storm…

They made seafood pancakes and pork wrapped enoki mushrooms…

…then they lit up a griddle plate on the hob. They’d found it at the Korean supermarket and it didn’t quite sit flat on the cast iron trivets, so Pete the engineer devised a solution.

Me: “What are you doing with the kids’ dominoes? They have sentimental value!”

Pete: “I’m making blocks to hold up the Korean BBQ hot plate the kids bought..”

Me: “But you’ll break up the set!”

Pete: “Oh, most of them have been gone for years. They make excellent plywood spacers. There’s a stack of them built into the wall over there…”

Sigh. So much for keeping the old toys intact…

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Tell me, what’s happening in your kitchen?

If you’d like to write an In My Kitchen post, please do so by the 10th May and send your link to our new host, Sherry at Sherry’s Pickings. Thanks for hosting Sherry! x

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In my kitchen…

…are Amedei 70% dark chocolate medallions, made with the Syrian ma’moul moulds I bought from Harkola. The Amedei tempers better than any other chocolate I’ve ever used, but it’s very expensive. I buy it through lovely Tania at Lario International

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In my kitchen…

…are a set of beautiful blue plates, a gift from my friend Therese…

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In my kitchen…

…is a branch of curry leaves from Maude’s place…

I traded her for sage from our garden. We’ve had an abundant crop this year and have dried a bag’s worth for winter…

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In my kitchen…

…was Korean chigae for dinner, made using our now tried and tested recipe from Adam Liaw’s Asian After Work cookbook…

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In my kitchen…

…is a new Swarovski crystal bracelet, which I made as a “souvenir” of our daily walks by the water…

I wanted to capture the colours in this photo that I took a few weeks ago, but I’m rubbish with paints…

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In my kitchen…

…are hot sauces. I bought a discount pack from Fireworks Foods, but I’m not sure we’ll actually be able to use them all. The scorpion sauce is a bit terrifying…

Somewhat hilariously, the Devil’s Bitch Hot Sauce is the most delicious one we’ve tried to date…

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In my kitchen…

…was a delicious twenty year old Australian Hunter Valley Semillon. The perfect end to a long week…

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In my kitchen…

…was the latest sock pick up from Richard the podiatrist (story here in case you missed it). After Napisan-ing, hot water washing and tumble drying, forty pairs were delivered to the Mustard Seed Op Shop in Ultimo for handing out to the homeless. I kept a few pairs for my own feet and sock monkeys…

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In my kitchen…

…is buffalo scamorza – smoked buffalo mozzarella. It’s the best and most indulgent pizza cheese ever…

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Tell me, what’s happening in your kitchen?

If you’d like to write an In My Kitchen post, please do so by the 10th April and send your link to Liz of Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things. Thanks for hosting Liz! x

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In my kitchen…

…was a selection of baked treats from Patisserie Cocotte – the latest venture by our friends from the local French bistro. We popped in to visit their new store in Top Ryde shortly after it opened three weeks ago.  Everything was delicious and light…

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In my kitchen…

…are two salts. One is the fancy Fleur de Sel de Carmargue, which I bought on special in the US for $8 a box ($64/kg). The other is Olsson’s Australian flossy sea salt, which cost me 20c a kilo. They look nearly identical in terms of colour and grain, and both are naturally evaporated sea salts. Can you guess which is which? Big Boy couldn’t and they taste the same to me. I won’t be buying fancy salts again!  (PS. It’s flossy on the left and fleur on the right)…

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In my kitchen…

…was our first yee sang, prepared for the 15th night dinner (to celebrate the end of Chinese New Year). My neighbour Maude and I prepared it together and then, as is traditional, we all tossed it in the air with our chopsticks for good luck!

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As well as the yee sang, we also had roast duck and various side dishes. The leftover duck went into a red Thai curry the following day…

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…and the leftover curry became a noodle soup for lunch the day after that…

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In my kitchen…

…is maple water. According to Google, this isn’t just water dripping from a tree (as the photo implies) but rather the sap of the maple tree before it’s concentrated into syrup…

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It wasn’t overly expensive (about $1.50 a litre) but it wasn’t overly impressive either. It tasted like water with a quarter teaspoon of maple syrup dissolved in it. Which I guess is effectively what it was…

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In my kitchen…

…is a gift of magnificent purple garlic from my friend Alison…

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We kept a few bulbs for eating and broke the remainder up into cloves, vac sealed them, and then stashed them in the freezer to see us through the rest of the year. If you’re interested in freezing garlic, here’s a post I wrote about it a few years ago…

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In my kitchen…

…was dark chocolate rocky road, a birthday gift for my friend Kevin. It was filled with white marshmallows, roasted hazelnuts, cranberries and Buderim naked ginger. We ate the trimmings on the plate for dessert that night…

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In my kitchen…

…is a gift from Pete’s sister Katey, who recently returned from Patagonia. Dulce de Leche from Argentina tastes just like caramel fudge!

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In my kitchen…

…there is always sourdough bread. When I’m tired and the thought of making dough feels like a chore, I remind myself that it’s (quite literally) ten minutes of work and so much easier and cheaper than driving to the shops. These loaves were made following our high hydration overnight tutorial

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In my kitchen…

…is an exciting gift of sea buckthorn powder, sent all the way from Finland by lovely Laila. I adored the hand drawn ammonite fossil card her son made for me…

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In my kitchen…

…were deep-fried school prawns. We ate them whole – heads, tails and shells on!

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Finally, in my kitchen…

…were rainy day dumplings, made with free range pork mince, grated ginger, spring onions and baby broccoli raab from the garden…

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They were simply boiled and served with black vinegar and homemade chilli oil…

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Tell me, what’s happening in your kitchen?

If you’d like to write an In My Kitchen post, please do so by the 10th March and send your link to Liz of Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things. Thanks for hosting Liz! x

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In my kitchen…

…are Laguiole cheese knives, bought on sale from Everten Online.

Did you know that Laguiole is a style rather than a brand? The good ones are still made in France and stamped accordingly, like these by Andre Verdier…

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The bee is traditional, but its shaping varies slightly between makers…

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In my kitchen…

…is the bargain of the month: Udder Delights Organic Triple Cream Brie for $3.97 a wheel. These had an early February expiry date and were heavily reduced at Costco (who usually sell them at the already discounted price of $12.99). I bought three wheels, portioned them up and stashed them in the freezer

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In my kitchen…

…is an 80s knitting project: a bacon and egg beret, complete with peas. The truly sad thing is that I can actually remember wearing it out to dinner when I was 19 years old…

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In my kitchen…

…is another ricotta cake. They’re getting better with each attempt…

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In my kitchen…

…is my Christmas fossil, a 400 million year old orthoceras slab. The unusual large specimen on the right has a clearly defined propulsion tube (siphuncle). It’s ludicrous that the retail price on this was $45, less than a good dinner in Sydney costs…

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In my kitchen…

…are chocolate wheels, made using the plastic ma’moul moulds I found at Harkola…

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Some designs were more successful than others…

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In my kitchen…

…was an ang pow lantern, made for Chinese New Year celebrations with my cousins. I wrote a step by step tutorial on these here

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In my kitchen…

…was a quick Römertopf dinner, made with our leftover Christmas ham, assorted fridge and freezer vegetables, moghrabieh, tinned chick peas, Herbie’s chermoula spice mix and water…

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After a couple of hours, I pulled out the bones and added a handful of small pasta, then put it back into the oven for another 20 minutes…

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It was very easy to make, and an ideal way to use up leftover ham…

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Finally, in my kitchen…

…is a new dishwasher.

After the extensive repairs we undertook in 2014, we managed to get another two and a half years from our trusty old workhorse, but we just couldn’t justify fixing it any more. Our old machine was installed on the 15th January 2002, and it lasted fifteen years and one week. I think that’s an amazing run given the heavy duty usage we’ve put it through!

So naturally, we’ve bought another Miele.

Here’s a really big tip for my fellow Aussies…if you’re looking to buy a Miele appliance, check out their Unboxed stores. These outlets are kept pretty quiet, but all the appliances they have on offer come with a full mechanical warranty and sell for about 25% off recommended retail prices. They’re out of their original packaging, and some will have surface marks or scratches, but all will have been fully tested before sale. In January, they had dishwashers starting from just $585!

The retail price on the machine we bought was $1,499 and the Unboxed store had it for $1,050. We went one step further and bought a machine with a blue dot on it (lightly run, usually a demonstration model) and paid just $900. It’s German made, whisper quiet and very water efficient…

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Tell me, what’s happening in your kitchen?

If you’d like to write an In My Kitchen post, please do so by the 10th February and send your link to Liz of Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things. Thanks for hosting Liz! x

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