There are times when I feel like one of those old fashioned wind-up toys that happens to be stuck in high gear. Certainly, this seems to have been the case for the last several weeks, with my agenda and schedule marked 'all systems go'. Being so busy is somewhat ridiculous in retirement, but it beats the alternatives of being dead or going back to work, if you understand my meaning.
Peter and I have just returned from a long weekend in Melbourne, where I was invited to spend the day on board The Golden Princess, the largest cruise ship to be ever based in Melbourne. I was treated to a culinary immersion and enjoyed a day of pampering, but more on that delicious adventure in an upcoming post.
While in Melbourne, I spent time exploring a few of the city's specialty stores - including Books for Cooks, Pen City (the pen professionals), and London and American Supply Stores (specialising in all forms of culinary art, equipment and supplies). Given the range in each of these shops, I feel blessed not to have over-indulged in my spending. That said, I did invest in a couple of treats.
The bone china cup and saucer at the top of this article is a piece from the Plume & Perch range by designer, Daniella Germain, which I purchased from the London and American Supply Stores in Elizabeth Street. I adore Fairy wrens and this little set really took my fancy. I'm pleased to report that a double shot macchiato tastes particularly good when sipped from this cup.
The kitchen garden has been flourishing thanks to a couple of weeks of good rain, followed by a burst of warm weather. The bees have been visiting regularly and we are still picking the sweetest strawberries. They are so good, that when I served them to a friend recently, he was sure that I had macerated them in sugar.
Peter spotted a recipe for Kendal mint cake in this book of Favourite Lakeland Recipes by Carole Gregory on a shelf in Books for Cooks near the Queen Victoria Market. If you have not yet been to this bookstore, do add it to your list of places to visit. Among the other delights in this little cookbook are Lardy Johns, Turnip Pie and Nutty Dainties. Watch this space!
We planted golden button squash this year and, although they have been slow to produce, the little squash are so fresh and tasty. I love adding them to risotto.
The folks from King Oscar sent me this beautifully presented selection of Atlantic Mackerel fillets from their new range. The North Atlantic mackerel is caught in the pristine and icy waters between Norway and the Faroe Islands, and the skinless gourmet fillets are hand-packed and offer a mild tasting alternative to tuna. I will report back as soon as I have tasted them.
To the huge delight of my friends, we've had an over abundance of baby aubergines this season. These are so good that one of my dearest friends, Diana, changed her mind about eating them... particularly after her husband, Bryant, prepared my version of Ottolenghi's aubergines stuffed with spiced mince and pine nuts.
Peter and I can both remember filling fountain pens with ink in our school days. Yes, it was a long time ago, but there is something wonderful about sitting down with a real pen and paper - especially for a writer. I was hoping to upgrade my plastic fountain pen, when I fell slightly in love with this emerald green quill and nib set at Pen City. Note to self: please keep the ink away from carpeted areas.
For the last two years, the tomatoes I've planted have failed - whereas the self sown bushes have provided a bounty of sweet and juicy cherries. That's what happens when you dig the rich compost into the garden bed, I guess. Not that I'm complaining. Next year I may not buy any tomato plants.
For the longest time, I've been wanting to try one of these poultry roasters. This one, from Avanti, was on sale at the London and American Supply Stores. I think it should work well. Have you tried them?
These white fleshed peaches have been picked too early, but will ripen nicely on the kitchen bench. I may grill them and serve them with my hotcakes, or use them in a sour peach salad.
That's all I have for you now, so it's 'toodles' from me as I dart back to the kitchen to start preparing a Vietnamese chicken salad. Stay tuned for more recipes, reminiscences and reviews, coming soon. This post is part of my regular In My Kitchen series, hosted by Maureen, the Orgasmic Chef.
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I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.