Monday, 2 April 2018

In My Kitchen - April 2018 - with an oven repair

April started with Easter Sunday, the end of Daylight Savings and April Fool's Day all bundled into one day.  And the start of the school holidays too.  Now we are well and truly into autumn, the days are drawing in and the weather is cooling but we are still needing more rain (except when I hang out the washing).  My greatest joy in the last week is my oven finally being repaired.  Above is the first loaf of sourdough bread I have baked for weeks.  I also baked rolls to go into the freezer for work lunches.

Here is my oven taken apart by a tradie.  For 4 weeks we had a tradie come once a week, and each week I was hopeful it would be repaired.  It was a long month.  Firstly I rang the gas because the oven had started going out after our gas meters were replaced.  I hassled the guy so much he looked at my oven and said the gas hose at the bottom was pinched.  Then started my four weeks of tradies:

Week 1: I had a plumber look at the oven and replace the gas hose so we had better gas flow.  Which was a relief because our oven has never baked very hot.  The oven went on and we had a day or two of confidence.  Then it reverted to either not staying on once lit or, worse, seeming to stay on until I checked the oven to either put something in or take something out and find it had gone out.

Week 2: the plumber returned.  He diagnosed it was the thermostat.  He said once upon a time he could have bent a pin to fix it but these days the manufacturer had to replace the whole thing.  Curse you, planned obsolescence.

Week 3: the manufacturer sent out someone who was very rude because his phone calls did not reach me (though eventually I got a phone message despite not receiving phone calls).  He said it was the thermostat but he did not have the part.

Week 4: the manufacturer's guy came again and put in the thermostat and - touchwood - since then I have been baking again.  Just in time for Easter and the cooler weather!

As I have mentioned we haven't had a crop of limes and lemons from our trees this year.  But it hasn't stopped us purchasing citrus occasionally for a glass of lemonade or limeade.  Sylvia quite likes making her drinks look a little fancy.  Like the above limeade.

I was quite restrained on our recent Sydney visit.  Very little made its way back to my kitchen.  But I could not resist buying a packet of [chocolate] Wombat Poo.  I was particularly amused by the claim that it was "realistic shape and colour".  Who spends time inspecting wombat poo to make sure the chocolate version is realistic?  It was quite nice and yes, for the curious, it was square in shape as apparently wombat poo is.

Meanwhile I was fascinated by the idea of combining caramel and cheese in popcorn.  So I feel for the packaging hype.  Or maybe I was just hopeful.  At home we discovered that the popcorn was actually cheese popcorn mixed with caramel popcorn but not cheese and caramel flavouring together.  (And if you think I am crazy to expect caramel and cheese flavours to be combined, check out Joy the Baker's Turkey Gravy Salted Caramels!)

Last year I started a worm farm to reduce our landfill contributions.  There is a lot online about starting a worm farm, what to feed the worms and what to be careful about.  There is very little I have found about individuals reflecting on their experiences (if you do know of articles about this or have experience to share, please let me know in the comments.) 

Fortunately for me, my mum and my brother in law have worm farms and have helped give me confidence to fill the bin and not worry about stressing the worms.  It is great to buy a head of cauliflower or bunch of celery and be able to give the trimmings to the worms.  I have been ripping up newspaper and cardboard to keep the worm farm from getting too wet.  The worm juice is great as a regular plant food for our pots.

If you are interested in waste reduction, there have been interesting posts about Celia and Joey's experience at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and Flicking the V's lately.

At the end of term, Sylvia's school had a health and wellbeing morning.  Her class developed fliers with healthy living messages which were given to parents.  It seemed that the kids know the right things to say but, as when Sylvia and I talked to a friend recently about how hard it was to give up smoking, it is not always so easy to make change.  We had fun discussing the fliers that night, both the messages and the design.

I was hopeful about these Reid's shortbreads from Scotland that I found on sale in North Carlton.  I particularly was excited about finding some interesting savoury shortbreads when I saw the Smoky Sea Salt and Strong Cheddar Shortbread.  But it had too much sugar in it for my liking.  The Salted Caramel Shortbreads were more pleasing but not as amazing as I had hoped because it was shortbread with some caramel chips rather than the whole shortbread being flavoured.  E is always happy to have shortbread in the house and is taking care of them.

We could not resist a packet of  Easter Cakes from Cadburys.  They were exactly as expected, lots of light-as-a-feather cake with faux cream filling and not much substance.  Great for a quick chocolate hit.

Finally, here is a quick meal I made for Sylvia and me after a day of baking on Good Fridy.  I liked the sound of Smitten Kitchen's quick pasta and chickpeas (pasta e ceci) because it sounded the sort of plain food that appeals to Sylvia.  However I was surprised as I made it to read it served 3 kids or 1-2 adults.  E had to fend for himself with a Sargents Vegetable Pie from the freezer.  Thank goodness the oven was working again!

Now I am off to enjoy the Easter Monday public holiday while Sylvia is staying at my mum's.  There is much to do around the house!

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event, that was started by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial,  If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 10th of the month.  Or just head over to her blog to peek into more kitchens. 


  1. thanks for joining in Johanna, even during Easter:) i got a laugh out of the wombat poo and the popcorn. yes i always thought americans loved to mix sweet and savoury together - like maple syrup and bacon (which is delish I have to say). awful about your oven. aren't tradies dreadful? our car battery went flat a few weeks ago, and the fellow came out to get it started again but didn't offer to replace it, as Racq usually does. then it died again yesterday and the lovely man put in a new one - just like that! makes you wonder....cheers sherry x

  2. Your bread is amazing. Its something that I wish I was better at, but somehow get stuck - I am nervous around the starter and how to proceed. I think I need to go on a bread baking course! So glad your oven is fixed, though I am very shocked to read that it has taken 4 weeks to get fixed. When I ran the vegetarian cafe, the gas cooker/oven died on me, but the person who came out and immediately identified it as the thermostat. Other than ordering it that took a couple of days, it was fixed within the week. It did happen at a bad time, a week or two just before Christmas and I had a reservation of 12 coming in and cancelled. I was gutted, because when the day arrived - the oven was fixed. I learned a lot.
    My concern was not the politeness of the Traders, they generally are polite, its if they 'rip you off'.

    Still I am pleased that you now have a working oven, I know you have been very frustrated of late because of this. I like a good spaghetti and chickpea meal.

  3. Wow that is very frustrating about the oven! I can't believe that it's that hard. Pasta and chickpeas sounds interesting! I wouldn't have thought to put them together. Did you like it?

  4. I'm sorry about your long oven saga. I hope it stays fixed for you now! I'm sure you're all delighted to be back to home baked bread. I smiled at the wombat poo but confess caramel and cheese does not appeal as a popcorn flavour!

  5. Chicago-style popcorn is entirely news to me. I've not noticed such a combination in American popcorn selections, but maybe I never looked hard enough. All kinds of coated and flavored popcorn was a fad for a while but I thought that was over.

    Your kitchen does seem to be full of good things -- especially a working oven!

    best... mae at

    1. I did the research and discovered that Chicago style popcorn flavored with caramel and cheese is available at Trader Joe's (the American chain) and elsewhere too! Live and learn... mae

  6. Your loaf of bread and little buns look delicious! Pleased to hear your oven is now (hopefully) fixed. Last year I had a problem with my ceramic hob (fortunately able to use three of the four rings) but we had to wait almost two months for a replacement.... a continual production problem and dozens of phone calls, made me want to tear my hair out! How funny, I learned that wombat poo was square shaped last week , a question on a TV Quiz Show.

  7. I am glad your oven is finally fixed. It would have been so annoying not to have one for a month. Your rolls look very impressive. Sadly, I am sure I could have happily scoffed the Cadbury cakes.

  8. Caramel and cheese - hmm, that's certainly a new one. I do like the idea of combining new flavours though, and have been having loving rosemary in sweet recipes lately, especially with chocolate! I feel your pain with the non-working oven (I'm still yet to get my landlord in to have a look at ours which has been on the fritz since January.)

  9. How frustrating about your oven but thank goodness it has finally been fixed. Not sure I would be crazy about caramel and cheese popcorn. My sister-in-law combines freshly made popcorn with M&Ms. I like it better with freshly grated parmesan or cheddar.

  10. Johanna, I've been missing your lively commentary and posts for the past several months. (No fault of your own, my dear; life 'n' all!) What a treat to catch up with you today, but SO sorry to hear about your oven malfunction (and "run-around") from supposed fixers. Sounds like you made the best of it -- and some mighty divine sourdough, too. Ditto on "planned obsolescence!" Take care... xo.


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