Saturday, 2 July 2022

In my kitchen - July 2022

How is it July!  How is it past the winter solstice!  How are we passed the halfway mark in the year!   How are we here when I haven't blogged much this year but I have photos, drafts and ideas!  How it life still so unsettled and askew!  Not to mention the disturbing news that the Supreme Court of America has overturned Roe vs Wade.  It is a reminder that life is cyclical not just moving in one direction.  We can't take the good times for granted nor should we forget in bad time that it will change.  This too shall pass!  In Australian news we have airport chaos (brought to you by Covid and Qantas) but at least our new Prime Minister Albanese is warmly welcomed by foreign leaders, as though in relief it is no longer Scomo!

There have been improvements and moments of light for me: a Sammy J gig, meeting a friend for a meal, and a centre-wide meeting at work where I could sit and chat with members over lunch.  And Covid is not over.  A few family members have had it recently.   So, unfortunately, I am not the only one to see life pass me by!  But there are plans for more good times ahead.

June has seen a few more home cooked meals in my kitchen.  Not all cooked in my home.  My mum has brought me  the above pumpkin soup with spiced chickpeas and also enchiladas with bean and cheese filling.  Both have been fantastic meals to have about for busy days.

We have had quite a lot of fresh ravioli for meals.  Recently as I was draining a saucepan, the pasta started to sink lower than it should and I realised the bottom was falling out of my colander.  I am so sad to have had to say goodbye to this colander which has been useful for many years of draining pasta, rice and beans.  It had the perfect handle to hold, the right shape, the right size holes.  I have looked for a similar colander.  No sign of one.  So I have a cheap one to keep me going until I find my dream colander.

These groceries are from our local supermarket which has rearranged everything and seems to have increased its range.  The tortellini that comes with a pumpkin sauce was ok but not as nice as pasta from the fridge.  The Turtle cups were quite moreish with soft chocolate filling in crisp layers.  Sylvia ate the seaweed crisps which were quite savoury.  And the crispy broccoli florets indeed shatter in the mouth but it is a bit disconcerting how much they taste like broccoli.  I guess they are healthy!

This soy crisp and cashew mix was a nice snack to take to work.

I cooked a huge Shepherd's pie ("Shepherd's lie") that gave me lots of lunches and dinners over a week plus more in the freezer.  I made a tomato tahini sauce filled with vegies and then a cheesy mash on top that was baked until crispy.  A great winter warmer.

I made this fried rice with tofu scramble for dinner when I had leftover basmati rice.  The I fried some pumpkin and purple cabbage to eat on the side.  Sylvia had quite a bit of the fried rice but not the vegies on the side.  I enjoyed quite a lot of leftovers.  

Oh and I photographed this with a pamphlet from our local Moreland Council which has recently discovered the name comes from a slave plantation in Jamaica.  They are on a crusade to change it to an Indigenous name and have chosen Merri-bek meaning rocky land but is yet to be formalised.

Sylvia wanted this brown sugar bubble tea.  She liked it.  I still find the concept very odd!

We tried a new flavour of ice cream - Butterscotch and Gingerbread.  It was quite nice but I was not as taken with it as Sylvia.

At work I tried tiramisu for the first time in my life.  One of my thoughtful colleagues made a regular tiramisu for her birthday and I declined because I don't do coffee.  She then made another with green tea which I tasted and it was really nice - I was pleasantly surprised that the lady finger cake layers were so soft.

And I am constantly amused by the notebook I bought to make notes at work.  The small print is not so easy to read on the screen but worth a read.

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 and her wonderful hand drawn header.

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Wild Timor Cafe, Coburg

Lately I have enjoyed visiting Wild Timor Cafe in Coburg a few times.  It is slightly South of the main shopping strip, which I imagine is very convenient for the people living down that way.  It is also just near a second hand book shop and the St Vincent de Paul opportunity shop.  It is a cafe run by the Wild Timor Coffee Company that was set up in East Timor to help sustain local villagers.  So you can have your ethical coffee and then head off for a spot of sustainable shopping too.

I checked back through my photo archive and found that I had been here for a beetroot chckpea burger with kale and tahini in 2015.  It seemed so long ago but I remember enjoying the meal which I had with my mum.  The  menu has changed since then but they still do burgers, albeit haloumi burgers right now.


I was surprised at how little the interiors seem to have changed according to my photos 7 years ago (from which I have spared you).  They still had the blue tiles by the counter and dist7 years ago.ressed brick walls but they are looking fresh so I guess thay have had a refresh since I visited.  I think the blackboard is new.

I recently met a friend there and could not resist trying the drink special: bubblegum kombucha.  It was a weird combination of a modern health drink and childhood junk food.  The bubble gum flavour was there in the chemical artificial way it is in a stick of gum.  Once was enough but it was fun to try.

My friend Kerin was slightly late and sent a text asking me to order her a dirty chai latte.  It was the first time I had heard the term and had to check if it was a typo.  So I learnt it means chai latte with the coffee!  And I had the fruit toast with butter.  It was delicious.  A little like brioche.  Soft and rich with a hint of lemon.

I met Faye there for lunch a few weeks later.  She chose the vegan version of the Breakfast burrito: spinach tortilla stuffed with mushrooms, beans, advar relish, avocado, jalapeno and tomato salsa, and red cabbage slaw.  It looked impressive and she was happy with it.

I was tempted by the Hola hibernation bowl, a tex mex combo of beans, corn, rice, avo, rice and more.  But instead I chose the Wild poke bowl of brown rice, edamame, cucumber, cabbage, carrot ribbons, broccoli, avocado, lemon, pickled radish and ginger, marinated tofu, with a creamy vegan dressing.  It needed the extra dressing and lemon but was lovely and healthy.

And then I met Kerin there again and had the watermelon and rhubarb juice which was superb.  Refreshing and great flavour.  I also ordered the special: Polenta bites with rocket and chilli tomato sauce.  I would have liked them crispier but otherwise they were pretty good.

Good food.  Friendly staff.  The space is not huge and can fill quickly on weekends but is worth a visit.

Wild Timor Cafe
282 Sydney Rd, Coburg  VIC  3058
Hours: 8am - 3pm

Saturday, 11 June 2022

In My Kitchen: June 2022

I am in denial that is is June and just about halfway through the year, even though the recent chilly weather had hit us with peak winter.  We have been spoiled by mild weather this year until recently and now we are digging out coats, winter woollies, and brollies.  Mortgage rates are up and we face huge spices in gas prices.  May was busy with Mothers Day, crystal craft, the nervous wait for the Federal Election, pub lunches at work, lost glasses, flu injection and doctor appointments for asthma.

The top photo is of most of the Darrell Lea mother's day pack that Sylvia gave me for mothers day.  Almost all of it has now been eaten.  I enjoyed lots of chocolate and licorice.

There is still not heaps of cooking happening, although a few more stews and side salads.  I am trying to cut down on the beige.  Above is a meal of haloumi chips with aioli, hash brown, and coleslaw.  

We have this sort of "fresh" ravioli or agnolotti pasta pasta -about once a week right now.  Usually we have spinach and ricotta but I was excited to find this broccoli and potato version recently.  I quite enjoyed it with garlic olive oil, brussel sprouts, peas, baby spinach, brie, parmesan and seasoning.  I really liked how the brie melted to make a creamy sauce that pulled it all together.

This is a winter montage.  A cheese and vegemite pie from Zaatar for a warming lunch.  A lime off our tree and one of my favourite pears in season - Packham Pears.  Bike lights are a must at this time of year when it gets dark so early.  And a friend gave me that cute knitting badge.  I really need to find my knitting mojo this winter!

I bought these"Veggie Snaps because I was curious.  Occasionally I have bought veggie chips fro the health food section at the Supermarket.  I was interested to see how Thins do it, as a more mainstream chip company.  The "snaps" were closer to regular crisps - ie thinner and more processed.  Nice but really really salty.

My mum gave me this zuccchini relish that she made.  It is really nice change from the tomato relish we often have in the fridge.  Great with pastry and fritters.

Being back at work last month, I find that making lunch is hit and miss.  I sometimes find some leftover stew in the freezer and occasionally make a sandwich.  This sandwich was made after I roasted some pumpkin.  It was excellent with relish, baby spinach and cheese.

I bought this crystal ring making kit for Sylvia.  She enjoyed making rings with it.  I enjoyed just looking at all the pretty colours.

Once Sylvia had made lots of new rings she needed somewhere to keep them.  She made saltdough to shape into bowls.  Once baked (I think they took about 4 hours at 120 C) and cooled, she painted them.  They look great on her desk.


On 21 May we had the Federal Election.  Above are a selection of How to Vote brochures that I was handed on the gates of the school where I went to the voting booth.  For those who don't have preferential voting like in Australia, we have political parties handing out a list of their recommendations on what order to vote the candidates.  And elections mean democracy sausages (ie fundraising BBQs) and cake stalls.  The selection of cakes I bought is also in the above photo.

I made us nachos for dinner on the evening of the Election.  It is so long since I made nachos I forgot to buy avocados.  But I enjoyed the rapid refried beans with them.  And I made some limeade to serve with them.

This election the preferences had a lot of sway over who won seats.  It was notable not just for change of government but also for the high percentage of votes that went to the minor parties and independents.  It was such a nail biting wait to hear the election called for the Labour Party.  So it took me a while to get over my election nerves and join an interstate friend on a zoom election get together! 

We had a work morning tea for IDAHOBIT Day.  (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia - I still have to look this up to write out the full name.)  I loved the Licorice Allsort Slice I made for IDAHOBIT last year, I made it again.  It delivered yet again.  However I kept some at home which Sylvia liked ... without the chocolate on top!  I don't get it!  The combination of licorice allsortsand chocolate is the best bit.  At least it was appreciated at work!

And there was also Mother's Day.  I thought it was a bit cynical to call this marketing ploy of calling the Strawberries and Cream Twist Yoghurt, the Mother's Day Edition.  I liked the sound of the flavour but did not break it open on Mother's Day.  I went to Geelong to see my mum and eat roast potatoes, eggplant bake, and cauliflower cheese, pavlova and cheesecake with family.

When I got home on Mothers Day I had some stewed rhubarb from my mum.  I stirred in raspberries and made a rhubarb and raspberry sponge to share with Sylvia.  We had leftovers for a couple of nights.  I didn't get to photograph it til the last night when it was past its best.  It was our first dessert, despite the weather not getting ridiculously chilly til the end of May.

A few weeks later, I mixed some farmers market strawberries and soft peeled pears with lime juice and maple syrup.  I baked this with this crumble topping.  It wasn't my finest crumble - too much butter in the crumble and too much liquid in the fruit.  However a fresh baked dessert is always delicious and we enjoyed it with the uncrumbly crumble and extra juicy fruit.


Lastly, here is our cat, Shadow, coming through the new cat door in our security door.  He is loving being able to go in and out even when the security doors are shut.  Of course it will be even better in the warmer months but we are already loving it.  The photo is not in the best focus as I needed a long focus to catch him in the act!  If you know cats, you know that they never deliver when you want so you need to catch them unawares!

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 and her wonderful hand drawn header.

Sunday, 29 May 2022

Paddington Cafe, Geelong

Paddington Cafe opened in Geelong during 2020.  My parents spoke fondly of it while we were in lockdown in Melbourne and they were not.  It was not until May 2021 that I finally visited, and then in April 2022 I had lunch at their new location with my mum.  It is a fine addition to the Belmont High Street.  A spot of inner city coffee chic in regional suburbia!

This is the cafe in 2021 when it was in a small space down a laneway.  It was quite cosy with cakes in the display cabinet, a few choice groceries for sale and a few tables and chairs inside and out.  As it opened during the 2020 lockdown, the focus was on takeaway rather than eat in.  My parents were very happy to grab a coffee there while on their walks during lockdown.

When I visited in 2021 with my parents and my interstate brother, we were able to sit inside the cafe.  The large windows made for good people watching, although there were less people passing in the laneway than in the high street to watch.  If you weren't facing the window, you could cast your eye over some interesting artworks on the wall.

I ordered the Vegan Sandwich: the smashed garlic and peas, tomato, hummus, mustard, cucumber and spinach came in a toasted foccaccia with some crisps on the side.  It was quite nice though I am not so keen on the mustard as a condiment.

I was pleased to be able to order a can of kakadu plum and ginger kombucha to have with my toastie and a very pleasing intense salted caramel whoopie pie for afters.


There were plenty of cakes to choose from in the display cabinet.  Lots of healthy seeds and lots of decadent frosting.  You can have your choice.

Later last year, Paddington cafe moved to a new premises in a larger, more prominent location on the High Street.  It is a space with less windows, but more tables and chairs.  What hasn't changed is the friendly welcoming staff and ambience including that tempting cake display.  When I visited with my mum last month, we decided to eat outside because fresh air and pandemics go together well!  Not the best place for quick service though!

I ordered the Quinoa bowl with some fried haloumi as extra.  The bowl was a combo of quinoa, rocket, seeded avocado, kale, broccolini and sweet potato hummus.  Honestly I can't quite remember exactly what was in the bowl but I think it was sweet potato hummus.  It was just the sort of nutritious colourful food I needed.  So satisfying.

Again I had the kakadu plum and ginger kombucha.  My mum and I shared a chocolate cherry and pistachio cupcake.  It was one of the nicest combinations of flavours I have had in a cake for some time.  The chunks of stewed cherry were refreshing in the dense chocolate cupcake that I think was made with ground pistachios as well as the pretty swirl of pistachio green frosting.

Since my last visit in April, it looks like their menu has changed again but it continues to have interesting dishes and cater for vegans and gluten free customers.

Paddington Cafe
134B High Street, Belmont  VIC  3216
Menu on ubereats

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Twice baked potatoes with cauliflower, cashews and pesto

Baked potatoes are such a satisfying meal as the nights draw in and the evenings are suddenly chilly.  I made these recently when I had a whole cauliflower that I wanted to cook up in a stew but I had decided to bake some potatoes.  I started to fry up some cauliflower and zucchini to top the potatoes.  Before I knew it I had a hearty mixture to load into the baked potatoes and bake in the oven for a second time.

I pulled out bits and pieces from the fridge to add to my potato mixture: olives, capers, cashew nuts and dried cranberries.  (Ok, I keep my dried cranberries in the pantry but the rest was in the fridge.)

The potatoes were in the oven about one and a half hours.  I like to leave them til their skin is crispy and when I squeeze them (using oven gloves or a scrunched tea towel) they feel soft inside.  I really love those really crunchy skinned baked potatoes that I buy at festivals.  They seem to sit in the warmer forever so I don't worry about the potatoes being in the oven too long.  Though they smell good once done, which is every bit as good as a timer!

Mix everything together til you have a cohesive mush.  The potato helps hold everything together.  Taste it and adjust seasoning or if you think of something missing, such a mustard or herbs, add it in. 

Now stuff the mixture into those potato shells.  Mine piled pretty high and then I squished it all down with the back of a spoon.  The flatter the mixture is, the more cheese will sit on top.

Bake them again in the oven.  They just need to warm through and crisp on top.  They can be made in advance, eaten at room temperature.  They can even be eaten with your hands.  These baked potatoes can be modified to suit what is in the kitchen but I really liked this combo.  It tasted almost meaty, though I have been told in no uncertain terms that a what a vegetarian finds "meaty" is quite different from a carnivore!  But even a vegetarian's idea of meaty is pretty good for a cool autumn evening!

More baked potatoes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Baked potatoes with beans and pesto (gf)
Baked potato with haggis 
Cheesy twice baked potatoes (gf) 
Smoky lime peanut baked sweet potatoes (gf)

Baked potatoes with cauliflower, cashews and pesto
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe Recipe
Serves 2

2 large potatoes
olive oil
2 x fist sized pieces of cauliflower, chopped into 1cm florets
1 zucchini, cubed
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
pinch of garlic salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese
3-4 tbsp chopped roasted and salted cashews
2-3 tbsp sliced olives
2 tbsp dried cranberries
1 tbsp capers
2-3 tbsp pesto
1-2 tbsp butter
squeeze of lemon juice
2-3 handfuls of grated mozzarella

Baked potatoes at 220 C for about 1.5 hours or til skin is crisp and it feels soft when squeezed or pierced by a skewer. 

While potatoes bake, drizzle some oil into a frypan (I used a cast iron pan) and fry the cauliflower, celery and zucchni with a pinch of garlic salt until cooked but with a bit of resistance when skewered with a knife (they will cook more the second time).  Prepare remaining ingredients.

Place fried vegies, parmesan, cashews, olive, cranberries, capers, pesto, butter and lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl.  When potatoes are baked, leave oven on, slice in half and scoop out the cooked potato, leaving about half a cm shell.  Add cooked potato to the bowl and mix everything together.

Place four potato shells on a lined baking tray.  Spoon filling between the shells, pressing it in.  Sprinkle each shell with mozzarella.  Bake an additional 15-30 minutes until cheese is golden brown and crispy.  Eat warm or at room temperature.  Can be reheated to eat later.

On the stereo:
The Köln Concert: Keith Jarrett

Thursday, 5 May 2022

In My Kitchen - May 2022 (easter)

April was a blur of Easter and illness, with the federal election campaign finally underway.  Lots of chocolate and hot cross buns.  Lots of tissues and pyjama days.  Lots of dirty politics.  Covid continues to play a role in my life with three family members getting Covid just days before my sister and her family finally visited from Ireland.  Then my uncle had a visit to ICU with Covid.  And more and more people I know seem to have had Covid.  When Sylvia got a cold and I caught it from her, it seemed that Covid might have caught up with us but the RAT tests and doctors said otherwise.  And now May brings wintery weather, dark nights, slipper, winter boots, limes on the tree and a need to get my bike lights in order.
The top photo is actually in my mother's dining room where she had a pretty display of flowers from her garden, chocolate bunnies and cupcakes on Easter Sunday.  The cupcakes were brought over from Dublin by my sister who thought the orange ones looked like leftover pumpkin cupcakes from Halloween.  I agree that they looked more pumpkin than carrots.  Surely they meant to have carrots with the bunnies and chicks!

I often make a few batches of hot cross buns at Easter.  This year I followed my favourite Sourdough Hot Cross Buns recipe.  But I didn't have pumpkin and so I thought I could add natural yoghurt instead and substitute an egg for aquafaba.  It was such a sticky dough I should have known it would end up a flat underbaked slab of HCBs.  Not my finest moment in baking. 

Just before Easter, Sylvia and I had a nice outing to some fine bookshops and food shops.  We bought books at The Little Bookroom in St George's Road, Fitzroy.  I have always loved visits to the Little Bookroom in North Carlton but we found quite a few tempting food shops near its new location across from Piedimentes.  Nearby is Wild Things Food with lots of interesting groceries.  I was most excited by the Herbs of Life Peach and Apricot Kombucha.  It was quite tart but very refreshing.

I also bought a packet of dried dragonfruit in Wild Things Food.  I've never come across this before and felt there were some good possibilities.

We also swung by Baker D. Chirico in Faraday St, Carlton for some excellent sourdough hot cross buns.

But no matter how good a bakery is at baking hot cross buns, it is not the same as the ones I make at home just the way I like them.  I like to add in different dried fruit to the supermarket dried fruit mix and I love thick crosses. 

I had another go at hot cross buns with dried dragonfruit, dried peaches and dried pineapple.  I was surprised how the dragonfruit made the dough bright pink and broke down in the dough into a pleasing seediness.  The pineapple all but disappeared.  The hot cross buns seems a little tropical and exotic.  If I had time I would love to develop the idea with coconut milk and perhaps even some desiccated coconut in them or on them.  Maybe next year.

The batch of dragonfruit hot cross buns was amazing.  I still didn't have pumpkin but I halved the yoghurt so it wasn't impractically soft.  One of the best things about baking your own hot cross buns is having them hot out of the oven, with the first bun torn into two pillowy halves to hold the melted butter, and the kitchen smells of the sweet spicy yeasty fragrance that is Easter.

On Easter Sunday I left Sylvia and her cold with her dad and I visited my parents, siblings and niblings in Geelong for lunch.  My mum did a lovely roast dinner with lots of crispy potatoes and melting roast pumpkin.  My sister Susie made her fantastic cauliflower cheese that is creamy enough to mop up the peas.  And another sister Fran made some wonderful refreshing punch.  With a cheesecake for afters, it was a fantastic dinner.  After lunch a few of us went to Torquay for a brisk swim in the chilly ocean.  It must be that familiarity breeds contempt as it was all the out-of-towners who headed to the beach!

It was great to see my oldest sister Chris at Easter.  She had brought some treats from Marks and Spencer in Dublin.  I really loved these super soft, super cheesy Cheddar and Red Leicester Hot Cross Buns.  (Much more cheesy than the cheesymite ones from our local supermarket).

My sister also brought some special Easter gelatine-free Colin Caterpillar sweeties.  The caterpillar and easter egg jubes were so cute.  And a Dublin carry bag.

After Easter we took it easy because Sylvia had a cold and then later in the week I caught it from her.  We have take a lot of RATs (Rapid Antigen Tests) in the past couple of weeks.  It is my first time I've used RATs.  They were all negative.  I was very grateful that we are now able to be triple vaccinated and test for Covid at home.  How far we have come.  Though I didn't have Covid I had some of the worst post-viral asthma I have had for years. 

I am glad my medication f to see my sister again before she headed home to Ireland.  We went to the Post Office Hotel in Coburg and shared a cheese platter in the beer garden.  It was good to have time together before she hopped back on the plane.  I gave her a lime from my garden that she took home with her.  It is amazing to think the lime was on the tree in my backyard one day and then in her kitchen in Dublin a day or two later.  Life since Covid still seems freaky and special!

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 and her wonderful hand drawn header.