'Cookbooks, it should be stressed, do not belong in the kitchen at all. We keep them there for the sake of appearances; occasionally, we smear their pages together with vibrant green glazes or crimson compotes, in order to delude ourselves, and any passing browsers, that we are practicing cooks; but in all honesty, a cookbook is something you read in the living room, or in the bathroom, or in bed.'
In researching for this little journal, I enjoy finding interesting or unusual quotations on topics that I'm writing about. The observation on cookery books (above) fits that category in that it is interesting, perhaps amusing, slightly cynical, but it's completely at odds with my own philosophies and practise ― although I have been know to peruse my cookbooks in both the living room and in bed.
The old books in this pile are among my treasured favourites and, from time to time, each one makes its way from the library in the front room to my bedside table and then onto the kitchen bench. Published in the 1950s and 60s, they are culinary classics in their own right and bring me inspiration and great pleasure.
Many, many years ago, my mother gifted a paperback copy of The Art of Hungarian Cooking by Paula Pogany Bennett and Velma R. Clark to my older brother, Alex, who also loved to cook. When I started work in the 1970s, I ordered the hard cover edition for myself, and paid for it with one of my first ever pays. On my brother's death in 1999, I took possession of his much-loved, well-used and absolutely tattered copy, and am thinking about having it rebound for my daughter. Over the years, I was fortunate enough to find the other titles ― Viennese Cookery, The Flavour of Italy, Russian Cooking, and The Talisman Italian Cookbook ― in second hand bookshops and at book fairs.
Let's take a look at what else is in my kitchen this month.
In my kitchen is this sweet little strawberry, which Peter presented to me when he come indoors after gardening. The summer flourish of berries has now calmed and, rather than filling colanders, we're picking only enough for nibbles.
In my kitchen for a short time was this single origin Lime and Chilli chocolate from the kind folks at Haigh's. Pictured is the wrapper. The chocolate didn't last long enough to be photographed, I'm afraid. It was so deliciously zingy!
In my kitchen are baby Cos lettuces, fresh from the kitchen garden. This is the first of six seedlings that I planted. The others will be picked and enjoyed over the next couple of weeks, lest they turn bitter.
At the top of my baking agenda is sourdough bread, with 'Priscilla' starter from the one and only Celia! (Thank you, love). I'll be following Celia's tutorials closely, methinks. While breadmaking is not new to me, for some reason, sourdough makes me nervous. Though I'm sure I'll get the hang of it. Stay tuned.
As a footnote, I should point out for those readers who are new to Good Things, In My Kitchen is a monthly round up hosted by my dear friend and fellow cook and blogger, Celia, who shares her adventures at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. The same Celia who so generously posted to me (and many, many others) a package of her sour dough starter, and who inspires many cooks and bloggers around the globe. Do pop in and visit Celia's blog and say hello to the wider community of blogger friends!
In my kitchen are more of those store-bought vine ripened tiny tomatoes. Despite hitting the high 30s for a few days, it has been a very cool summer in Canberra, so our tomato plants are not producing at all. These flavoursome little specimens are from my local Aldi. I love to bake them whole.
In the larder in my kitchen is this Camargue organic red rice, kindly gifted to me in December by the folks at The Essential Ingredient in Canberra. This rice has a nutty flavour and is perfect in Ottolenghi-style salads.
There are apricots galore in my kitchen, some of which featured in my Torta con albicocca e agrumato limone recently. Apricots have always been a favourite summer fruit and these flavoursome beauties are from my local Aldi Supermarket. I love to eat them fresh from the hand, and they also make a divine compote. Recipe coming soon.
Another of the Aldi products always in my kitchen is this reduced fat, sliced cheddar cheese. It's good, really good. For a light lunch, I team it with sweet red bell peppers, sandwiching the cheese in between slices of the capsicum. Yum!
In my kitchen is corn on the cob, bought fresh from the grower at ourlocal farmers market at EPIC. One of Peter's favourite vegetables, corn is sweet, succulent and tender, and will make for tasty chowder, salad, or pancakes.
To the surprise of many a wine snob, some of Aldi's least expensive plonk took out top honours at the prestigious Sydney International Wine Competition late last year. This $4.99 El Toro Macho Tempranillo was one of them, so needless to say Peter and I have stocked up! If you enjoy a drop of red, but care about your hip pocket, this one is well worth investigating.
Tell me dear friends and fellow cooks, what good things are happening in your kitchen this month?
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I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.