Tuesday, 11 April 2023

In my kitchen: April 2023

It is April and we are into Easter and school holidays!  Life continues to be busy.  Over the last few weeks I have had my flu jab and my 5th covid jab.  I have been to see Billy Bragg at the Forum (amazing), taken Sylvia to St Kilda and been to see Everything Everywhere All At Once (mind-blowingly crazy) at the cinema.  We have had a new couch delivered, finally got rid of 20 year old tins of house paint from our shed on my first visit to the tip, and replaced lost cat collar and name tag.  Sylvia has bought a chicken onesie among her online purchases.  Politics has been interesting in Australia with Labour winning the NSW state election and the Aston by-election in Melbourne from the Liberals.  In overseas news, Trump has being charged with 34 felonies in the US.

Easter has been fun with lots of cooking and catching up with family and friends.  Above is a batch of my fave recipe for overnight sourdough hot cross buns and the start of a pate but more about these further down the post.  But let's check out my kitchen, including a lot of foreign foods.

Not only have we been to USA foods in Moorabbin but there is a smaller USA Mart in Sydney Rd, Brunswick opposite the police station.  We love trying out different versions of familiar bars and bought the blueberry muffin Kit Kat and the salted caramel Milky Way.  Sylvia loved the kit kat but I preferred the milky way.

We also bought Cheetos Mac'n'Cheese at the USA Mart.  Sylvia loves the Lord of the Fries mac and cheese balls so we bought a packet of their mac and cheese mix.  Both were nice but not a patch on home made mac and cheese.

We still find interesting groceries at our local supermarket.  Sylvia loved the Subway pizza sub flavoured Smiths crisps.  I enjoyed the native flavours of the Kakadu Plum and Australia Aged Cheddar Kettle crisps. I also enjoyed the sweet potato and rosemary wafer crackers.  The baby roma tomatoes are in the photo because I was surprised to see them in a cardboard box rather than the usual supermarket plastic tubs.  And Sylvia got the Cola Slush Puppy but it is still in the freezer so I can't report back on it.

On our trip to St Kilda we had lunch at Rococo.  Sylvia declared her potato pizza the best pizza ever.  So we plan to be back.  I had a hearty salad and we shared some garlic bread.  I usually have garlic bread that is cooked in food and quite soft but this was fried or grilled and both crispy and buttery.  I had to take home leftover salad and garlic bread, especially after I helped out Sylvia with her pizza.

Acland Street in St Kilda is famous for the amazing cake shops that were opened by European post war migrants.  It is fun to walk between the tables and chairs and tempting window displays stopping to drool over the huge range of cake.  There are lots of light and creamy cakes but always something for everyone.  We bought a slice of apple crumble slice for Sylvia and a florentine for me to take home.

We stumbled across Premium Co Groceries (173 Acland St).  It has lots of Asian groceries but also some fascinating vegan groceries.  I have never seen vegan anchovies before but resisted.  When I saw these vegan corn dogs though I had to buy them.  I don't think I have ever had a corn dog before but they scream fairs, summer, celebrations, freedom and lots of fun and laughter.

Also at Premium Co Groceries we bought Hello Panda bikkies (gone in the blink of an eye), apple Fanta (one sip and abandoned in the fridge), and a Popin' Cookin' DIY candy kit.  I'd never heard of them but Sylvia had seen them somewhere and begged for it. It was really odd.

At home Sylvia made up her popin'cookin' kit.  It came with little mixing bowls, moulds, measuring spoons and stirrers and packets of powder to make it up, as well as instructions.  It looked very impressive when put together but the fizz on the coke didn't last long.  I found it fascinating and frighteningly futuristic at the same time.  It looked like fun making the burger and chips but was more about playing with food than enjoying it.  The resulting candies were so sweet and tasteless that after a few weeks they were thrown in the bin. 

Like a lot of the house, my lemon and lime trees have been neglected lately.  They had grown so bushy that it was hard to get in and keep an eye on them.  I've been worried about citrus leaf miner and started to prune a lot of foliage.  When more of the trees were exposed I was horrified at how much gall wasp had snuck in.  I lost some fruit this way but managed to keep quite a bit and hope this will make the trees healthier.

I was given a new phone cover that I wasn't so keen on.  While my phone was wearing it, Sylvia played with the favoured old one and managed to break it.  So I set out on a search for a green phone case that sparked joy.  I really liked this one by cRasee on Etsy.  I was a little sad that the quote "a well read woman is a dangerous thing" is not as visible on my case as on the online photo but the case makes me very happy.

A while back, I chopped up some vegetables to add to a noodle and tofu dish.  I took the leftover vegies for lunch with some cashews and rice vermicelli noodles.  I had foolishly thought if the noodles had been dunked in water and sat in some seasoning liquid they would soften by lunchtime.  They didn't!  I had to eat around them, add some boiling water and microwave until soft at the end of my lunch.  The next time I took rice vermicelli for lunch with leftovers (tempeh and corn soup), I let it sit a few minutes at home in boiling water before leaving for work.  Lesson learned!

I was in denial about stone fruit season finishing until I went to my local supermarket and found it had no more stone fruit.  Thank goodness there is still some stone fruit in other supermarkets.  I have stewed plums a few times and it does me the world of good to have some stone fruit.  But my fruit intake has markedly decreased with the availability of stone fruit. 

We had another visit to USA Foods in Moorabbin.  I loved these Pretzel crisps with buffalo wings.  I also bought the Egg Rolls.  Sylvia was surprised as she knows I don't like egg.  We don't have egg rolls in Australia and I was also surprised years back when I found out they don't contain egg.  I thought the wrappers were egg but it is a bit more like chiko rolls than egg!  And there are no buffalo wings in the pretzel chips either.  Sometimes there is a lot of reading of ingredients!

We also bought these snacks at USA Food.  Sylvia has discovered just how sweet a lot of American food is, compared to what we are used to in Australia.  But she is smitten with toaster strudels.  The eggo flavoured pop tarts weren't to her liking nor were the caramel apple pops.  She liked the ding dongs more than I did.  I chose the strawberry and dark chocolate kit kat which I sort of liked but found the flavours a bit chemically fake.

It is the 100th anniversary of vegemite this year so there are a few vegemite products about.  We tried the McCains Cheesy vegemite mini pizzas and were disappointed.  The pizzas were slightly sweet and the cheese and vegemite topping was a bit soggy.  However I have tried a far superior home made pizza with vegemite which I will share some time.

When I bake hot cross buns, I insist on making them with dried fruit, much to Sylvia's displeasure.  So I have made her some shapes with the flour and water "crosses" mixture and brush them with sweet glaze.  She was very pleased with them.  Can you see the one shaped like a horse with no legs? 

Easter this year was a bit different to usual.  I had Easter lunch with my parents and siblings in Geelong on Saturday, a friend come over for hot cross buns on Sunday morning, and I made a roast dinner for Sylvia and me for tea.  I was too involved in catching up with family to photograph my meal in Geelong but it was fairly similar to this roast dinner that we had at home: voracious vegan pate with tomato relish, roast potato, roast pumpkin, cauliflower cheese with macaroni, and peas.  The pate went really well with the roast dinner.  I made two pates so I could take one down to Geelong.

We were pretty relaxed about lunch on Easter Sunday.  I heated one of the hot cross buns and filled it with a slice of leftover pate, a slice of cheese and some quandong jam.  I really liked having a bit of savoury in the hot cross buns, which weren't especially sweet anyway.   I find I much prefer hot cross buns to other bread at Easter so this worked well as a substitute for bread in the sandwich.  Highly recommend it to anyone with leftover hot cross buns this year or to keep as an idea for next Easter.

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 gorgeous hand drawn header.


  1. There has been a lot going on in your kitchen in the last month! Are the foods in the US that different from Australia? I am not so sure about the blueberry muffin kit kat, I would prefer the Milky Way as well.

  2. I assume you don’t think Americans live on those salty sugary snacks all the time. We really eat lots of vegetables and (collectively) a lot of meat and dairy products, mostly unprocessed — honest we do! We are very self-critical and apologetic about the snacks and sugary drinks. And we (again, collectively) are pretty adventurous in trying the foods of the many immigrant groups that make up our pretty diverse population — these have become quite mainstream! Well, OK, we also eat hamburgers and pizza.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  3. Oh my goodness so much goodness in one post! You've really had some weird but mostly wonderful foodie finds. I have very fond memories of Acland Street and I'd totally be up for that salted caramel milky way - sounds delish! I hope you both had an eggcellent Easter!

  4. This was a very fun, interesting post. Thanks!

  5. Yes I've always been confused as to why the americans call them 'egg rolls'! And what about vegan anchovies? Sounds kinda weird really :=) Lots of interesting things in your kitchen Johanna. I've seen YouTubers play around making all sorts of odd sweets which are more for the fun than the eating I think. Oh yes Acland street has so many fab cakeries! Thanks for joining in this month.

  6. I have noticed that USA Mart on Sydney Rd but not been in to visit yet! Were the vegan anchovies dried, in a plastic packet? I like them a lot - I think they're like battered dried mushrooms, very salty of course.


Thanks for dropping by. I love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts and questions. Annoyingly the spammers are bombarding me so I have turned on the pesky captcha code (refresh to find an easy one if you don't like the first one)