May sees the year in full swing with life being busy at home and at work. While the threat of Covid has eased, the vaccine and closed international borders continue to be challenging. Winter is closing in which is not good for food photography or riding my bike to work but lovely to fall sleep to the sound of rain outside and even not bad for swimming laps in the outdoor pool today. Last week we were trying to get back into routines after a crazy week of school camp and a work trip to Sydney. It was one of those weeks where I wondered if we would ever find routine. Despite this, I have been enjoying a bit more cooking lately. I have had a few more opportunities to share food and made some substantial dishes for lunches. Above is quinoa salad I made a few weeks back.
This is the quinoa salad served for lunch while working at home. I am only working from home a day and half a week. Lunches at home are so much easier when they don't need to be carted to work hours ahead of eating them. Unfortunately I was not so happy with this salad. I expected the quinoa to be fluffy and separated rather than clumpy. But it was still pretty good with lots of chickpeas, mini cherry tomatoes, dried cranberries, chopped spinach and cauliflower.
It was exciting to go to IGA supermarket after seeing Tom and Jerry at Pentridge Palace Cinema with Sylvia in the school holidays. We were wide eyed at all the different groceries. Tinned edamame beans were grabbed in glee but Sylvia was disappointed with the taste of them. I loved them in a wonderful Corn and Edamame Chowder. The freeze-dried pumpkin made for healthy snacking. The vegan smoked oat cheese was a bit bland cold but worked a treat melted on toast. I took the Veg Eaty Maple Bacon Gourmet Sausages to Geelong for a Mothers Day BBQ and I really enjoyed them. Sylvia was keen on the crumpet toast which is quite easy to find at other supermarkets.
I've had a bit of time to sort through some papers and detritus in my bedroom. I found this domestic goddess badge that I was given years ago. It has seen better days. Symbolic of my kitchen prowess?
Not quite "in my kitchen" but it is as good as place as any to share a housekeeping tip. Many years ago when I lived in a student share house a repair guy visited to look at my housemate's washing machine which was in a bad way. He told us the problem was that she had not emptied the lint filter. One I bought my own washing machine, I have emptied the filter almost religiously. Lately I have noticed my lint filter has got so old and holey that it was getting ineffective. I put in the brand of my washing machine into search and was surprised how easy it was to purchase a new filter.
Here is a fairly easy weeknight dinner. I purchased a spinach and feta quiche for one. It was big enough to share with Sylvia, who surprised me by loving it. I made a quick mac and cheese to serve with it. Instead of baking the mac and cheese in the oven I made it in my cast iron frypan, then topped it with grated cheese and panko breadcrumbs. I cooked it under the grill until it was golden brown and crispy. Sylvia ate it under sufferance but loved the crispy topping. Then I amused myself by filling my plate with more cruciferous vegetables: raw cabbage and microwaved brussels sprouts. It is that time of year.
When I lived in Scotland, I was very partial to Muellers corners (apricot, gooseberry and the unforgettable toffee yoghurt with choc covered cereal hoops). Now they seem to be filling the shelves of our Melbourne supermarket chilled section. For those unfamiliar, it is a yoghurt pot that has a small corner filled with something to stir in. Sylvia is very excited by the Chobani S'mores yoghurt. I really like the Gippsland ones. The corners are all full of crispy mixtures of nuts, coconut, chocolate, pastry crumbs etc. Maybe there will soon be ones with corners of fruit sauce like the Muellers fruit corners.
And here is more yoghurt in my kitchen. Yes we have suddenly gone a bit mad for yoghurt! This one is a Gippsland apricot and honey yoghurt which I ate with some homemade berry sauce and bought granola. Delicious!
Another homemade meal. I made a stew with pasta and served it with colourful vegetables. Actually I can't quite remember the stew well but I suspect it was a tex mex sort of
When I flew to Sydney a couple of weeks ago, my flights were changed a few times and it was such a mess that I took my colleague's advice and headed to the airport to sort it. (Which was much preferable to spending 1-2 hours on hold on the phone which seemed my alternative.) It means a few hours at the airport.
After the flight up from Melbourne I assumed that I would not get a vegetarian meal. So I had a burrito bowl and bought these JCs nut mix snacks. The names (Outback Mix and Jackaroo Mix) amused me. I had thought they would be good to have on the plane but, as it was, I wasn't hungry. I ended up eating them as snacks at work last week and found them to be rather tasty.
Luckily I had a good book to read while I waited for my plane. New Animal by Ella Baxter had lots of odd moments but had some thoughtful insights into grief, and some lovely writing.
Before I sat at the gate to wait for my plane, I had plenty of time to look for some gifts for Sylvia. I got her an opera house glasses cleaner and a Bondi Kiss salted caramel paw paw lip balm. I had to buy a new luggage tag and could only find one I liked in a set of two, hence the leftover pink tag. I also brought some some chewing gum, which I like to have on the plane as I can get travel sickness. And I bought a couple of hotel toiletries home for Sylvia.
This plate (designed by Ngarga Warendj, the dancing wombat) was my present to myself at Sydney Airport. I really liked the simplicity of the design with Aboriginal motifs. Now when I use it, I will think of my first flight and first big centre meeting after lockdown, of swimming at Coogee Beach and being messed around with flights on the way home. I have some photos from the trip that I hope to share here soon!
It took me a while to find some energy and time to stew a big bag of apples. Once I did, Sylvia was delighted and at quite a lot of them. They were delicious and comforting. I took some warm stewed apple to my neighbour and I used some in a lovely honey, apple and olive oil cake.
Caramilk seems to be a mix of white chocolate and caramel. I am not a huge white chocolate fan but I do like caramel. I loved these caramilk choc chips in ANZAC biscuits
. I am not baking a lot but this new flavour makes me curious to try these in other baking.
Here is an odd assortment that I brought back from the city when I rode in to see the skin specialist. A childhood in the harsh Australian sun means regular skin checks-ups. On this occasion the specialist decided to do a biopsy on a mark under my eye to check he was right that is was nothing sinister! That part of the skin is very sensitive. After the visit I replenished my stocks of iron tablets, brought some new umbrellas and went to Haighs chocolate for some indulgence. I bought Sylvia the chocolate bilby and the quandong chocolate was for me.
Lastly, here is another colourful work lunch at home. On this occasion I had a stew made with a soup mix and lots of vegies. It went very well with baby spinach, red capsicum, red cabbage and brie cheese. I have been very partial to red or purple cabbage which keeps for ages in the fridge. It is easy to add it to a dish for some additional colour and nutrients.
I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event.
If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the
month. Or just head over to her blog to visit more kitchens.