In my kitchen May 2017

In my kitchen:

Was a kiwano.  It is also called an African horned cucumber or melon.

Am I the only one who remembers eating these as a kid?  We used to call them prickly cucumbers and I loved them.  I have no idea where they came from but I presume Mum, or someone she knew, grew them.   I believe they are easy to grow in a climate with hot dry summers.  Perth would be ideal!

This is a typical example of a ripe fruit.  It has orange skin and lime green, jelly-like flesh, with a refreshing cucumber-like taste.  Mum treated them as she would any other cucumber – ie, she peeled and sliced them and then swamped them in vinegar.

I was in Bridgetown one day when I got a text with a photo from my mate, Colette, saying “Check out what I saw in the deli.”

Colette knew I would be excited.  A few years ago, she was at Lancelin and bought some kiwano jam.  When she told me, I was over the moon.  I wanted some seeds.  If someone was making kiwano jam in Western Australia, they must be growing kiwanos.   You can easily find the seeds on-line but, because of quarantine regulations, you cannot bring them into Western Australia.

Colette bought two.  We ate one and a half and I collected the seeds from the other half.  Next summer, I hope to be awash with kiwano.

In my kitchen:

Are two bottles of Sticky Balsamic.  The food and wine fair was on when we were in Melbourne and we happened across some stalls including one selling this sticky balsamic vinegar.  It is made in Geelong and tastes great.  They had little tasting spoons so I know it is lovely.  We opted for the Apple and the Reserve but any bottle could have found its way into my case.  I highly recommend it.

In my kitchen:

Is this fruit & nut cake by Preserved and Pickled.  We bought it at another stall.  I have never heard of the brand but it sure looked good so I thought I would give one a try.  I love these types of treats.  I am amazed it has survived this long.

Back to Western Australia…

In my kitchen:

Is some creamed honey.  Maureen’s nephew, Dale, and his partner, Ramona (named after the song), visited recently. They called in on their way back from a week in Margaret River and Pemberton.  Maus loves creamed honey.  I am not sure whether it was fortuitous luck on Dale’s behalf or whether he knew.  The honey comes from Nannup – one town on from Bridgetown.

In my kitchen:

Are tomatoes – of course.  These guys are drying in the dehydrator.  They have been sprinkled with salt, pepper and dried herbs and will be stored in olive oil.

The vegie patch has not been so prolific this year which is understandable, considering it had to fend on its own most of the summer.

We have had plenty of beans and cucumbers and now are getting tomatoes galore but  not the ridiculous quantities of previous years.  This year, I pulled up EVERY cherry tomato that reared its head and planted Siberian tomatoes.  I have no idea from where the seeds came but I had a packet so decided to give them a go.  They are only all right.  The skin is cracking quite a bit and some have Anthoracnose.  It will be back to cherry tomatoes and Romas next year.  I think I will buy seedlings so I get fruit earlier in the season.  May is a bit late.

In my kitchen:

Is a new kitchen gadget!!  I haven’t had a new gadget for ages.  This is a gift from Sue and Matt.  They brought it back from New Zealand.  It is a leaf stripper.

And it works!

I am not sure that every kitchen needs one but it will certainly come in handy in every kitchen that has a Maus.  Maus can spend ages taking leaves off a stem.

In my kitchen:

Are some new books.  I spied this book on Celia’s blog, Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, and thought it was a great idea.  I know absolutely nothing about seafood.  When I read non Australian recipes requiring fish, I have no idea what Australian variety to substitute for the one in the recipe.  We invariably buy snapper – ’cause Maus thinks it’s good and Barramundi ’cause I have heard people say it is good.  I am hoping this book will encourage me to be more adventurous.

In my kitchen:

Is a great present from Maus’ nephew, Damian, and his wife, Briony (and little Casper).  I bought our caper plants from Brian Noone many years ago.  In those days, you couldn’t buy the plants in Western Australia.  I paid just as much for the quarantine as I did for the plants.  Luckily, four out of the five plants I bought survived and are still doing very well.  The book is fabulous.  There is a lot of information about the plants and a chapter with recipes.  Love it.

Look!  It is even autographed.  I love autographed books.  I am not sure of the connection but I think Damian knows Brian’s son.  Thanks, guys.

In my garage:

Were 210 kilos of olives.  These guys took Maus and me three and a half days to pick.  Here they are ready to go to the pressers.

And here they are in the ute on their way.

The story, alas, has a sad ending.  The presser rang yesterday to tell us his machine broke down with our olives in it so no oil for us.  Shit.  Bugger.  Bitch.  Bum.  We drank a few glasses of wine after that call.  The trials and tribulations of living in the country!

The good news, if you can call it that, is we probably have the same amount of olives still on the trees.  If we can muster the enthusiasm and find another presser, we could spend three or four more days picking olives and get some oil.

If you would like to see what is in other bloggers’ kitchens this month visit Sherry at Sherry’s Pickings.  Sherry now hosts In My Kitchen each month.


17 thoughts on “In my kitchen May 2017

  1. Love the leaf stripper, would come in handy if you needed to dry lots of herbs. And the olives… wonderful but sorry to hear the pressing machine broke down. Better luck next time around and at least you have more on your trees 🙂

  2. Bloody hell re the olives!!!! I would be peeved too. Never seen a kiwano before but I love the colours. Love capers, I bought one years ago but it sadly carked it last summer. The flowers are beautiful and I loved seeing them grow wild in Greece. Just got back from NZ, didn’t see any strippers (in the shops) will have to continue using my feed the stem through a strainer method. Good to see your post!

    • Hey Maree, love the idea of pulling herbs through a strainer. You don’t really need a specific gadget do you? I must add though, I used it tonight on thyme and it worked a treat. Don’t mention the olives, we are still really really grumpy.

  3. I love that caper book – will need to look it up. We get capers growing as weeds here and I would love to have a go at pickling them. I do know how much work you must have put into harvesting those olives and it is very sad that you didn’t even get oil from it. Glad that leaf stripper gadget worked as many of these gadgets simply end up in the kitchen drawer.

    • Hi Debi, We are still getting over “no oil”. It is so hard to get motivated to pick the balance of the crop after that disappointment.

  4. So sad about your olives and the loss of potential oil. I hope you do pick what is left on the trees and try another presser. My olive output consisted of one small jar of olives in oil and they are so precious after 15 years of waiting I dare not eat them, just waiting for the right occasion/appreciative guests etc. Maybe it will end up just my love and I with the appropriate piece of cheese and a great red.

    • One small jar!!! 🙂 You must have a seedling. One of our trees is a seedling and it has only produced a handful of fruit. The only reason it is still with us is because Maureen’s mum gave it to us. It was about 25 years ago when olive trees were not readily available in Perth. There was a lot of work in those olives. I don’t know if we have another 4 days in us.

  5. I’ve never seen a kiwano before. I love the things I learn on IMK. I could use one of those handy little leaf strippers too. I feel your wrath about the olives…….

    • Hi Sandra, I must be the only one that was fed them as a kid. You cannot believe the wrath – I am volatile on the best of occasions. All those hours on top of a ladder for nothing is enough to make the most placid grumpy.

  6. I didn’t know the caper was such a pretty little flower. I bought the online version of the seafood book and it’s very good – i have to admit i find a physical book much better, though. What an awful shame about your olives. I recently bought some unfiltered olive oil from Patrice Newell and it is really good so i think you and Maus should get out there and have another go. Let’s hope you don’t have to sing tne Weepoowillybumdrawers song again!

    • Hi Jan, The caper flower is really really pretty. I still buy all hard cover cookbooks – e books just don’t do it for me. I even prefer physical novels but when I am in bed and it is midnight and I want something to read an e book is just fine. You cannot believe how pissed off we are about those olives. There is a lot of picking in those boxes.

  7. wonderful treats from sunny Melbourne, the fruit/nut cake looks yummy. In Malta, where I come from originally, caper bushes grow wild. We’d pick them while out on our walks then pickle them in brine.

  8. Bugger about the olives! Wish I could help but alas my little tree only produced 2 olives. 😀
    I absolutely adore your leaf stripper – what a cool little gadget.
    Have a wonderful and happy Monday Glenda.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  9. hi Glenda
    would you like me to add you to the IMK list this month? Just email me if so – love your post. i have been thinking of getting that fish book for ages. is it good? love the little leaf stripper gadget too. what an awful shame about your olives! i would have been absolutely ropeable.That sticky balsamic looks a winner. i love buying all sorts of vinegars and oils – my pantry is stuffed with them but you can always have more. I adore capers too. nothing as good as a juicy caperberry. cheers! sherry

    • Hi Sherry – trust me we were ropeable – that blasphemy was not all we said 🙂 The fish book is pretty good- I think the more fish you eat the more useful the book would be.

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