In My Kitchen: baby, it’s cold outside…

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Donna Hay's At My Table (1995), photography by Quentin Bacon
Donna Hay’s At My Table (1995), photography by Quentin Bacon

Over the past month the weather has gotten quite nippy here on the south east coast of Australia. It’s perfect for indoor enjoyments, warming our small apartment by turning the oven on, and comfort food.

At My Table
At My Table

Just as well, because the G.O. and I have spent the last three weekends keeping each other cosy company on the couch while fighting off our common cold/flu lurgy. Expeditions have been circumscribed. I haven’t been to the farmers market for over a month. We’ve been eating courtesy of our pantry-freezer stash and foraging at local shops.

Garlic /  Ginger Grater
Garlic / Ginger Grater

En route dashing to the shops I diverted to a garage sale and was rewarded, netting myself a ginger-garlic grater -perfect! fresh ginger for tea was on my shopping list- and yet another cookbook I couldn’t resist buying for a few dollars. One day rather than just browsing, I’ll make something… What attracted me to Donna Hay’s At My Table (1995) was the artistic photography by Quentin Bacon and the simple fresh recipes and ideas. “The photographs in At My Table have been taken as polaroid transfers. Each image is printed onto cotton paper and each is therefore an original work of art.”

Backyard feral chook eggs
Backyard feral chook eggs

When I can’t get to the markets what I miss most is proper free range eggs. The eggs at the local shop are labelled free range and they’re local from within a 100 km radius of Sydney but I can’t help thinking they’re not what I envision as really free range pastured eggs from farm chooks. I couldn’t have been more delighted to get a text from my bestie Mrs S. who was coming for a visit asking Do you want eggs? Yes. Half a dozen or a dozen? However many you can carry, was my response. Her husband has a band of what she calls not free range but feral range chooks in his Blue Mountains backyard.

Free Range (left) vs Backyard (right)
Free Range (left) vs Backyard (right)

As she hands the eggs over Mrs S. says to me. I don’t eat the eggs… those chooks will eat anything, bugs, food scraps, rubbish. My suggestion to not die and fall over in the back yard or they’ll eat you, didn’t comfort her. That’s why backyard eggs are better than shop eggs! You can see, Mr S.’s chook egg is the one on the right, with the lovely yellow yolk. The other egg is free range but grain fed, hence the orange yolk.

Pa's Rice Pudding
Pa’s Rice Pudding

 

Backyard eggs inspired me to cook rice pudding like my Pa used to make, as close as I can. The G.O., enigma that he is, won’t eat plain boiled rice in any form but will eat rice pudding. My grandfather’s rice pudding was my favourite dessert when I was a kid. He made it just like this in an old enamel dish, but in a wood burning oven. I can’t replicate that nor milk from his dairy cows, or home grown eggs usually. But it’s still good, and the G.O.’s current preferred sweets for Sunday afternoon tea and Monday smoko.

Pa's Rice Pudding Recipe
Pa’s Rice Pudding Recipe

The recipe is from my 1984 revised version of The Commonsense Cookery Book. Thumbing through it, refreshing my memory on rice pudding how-to I came across a recipe I’ve been seeking for a decade… The G.O.’s favourite sweet made by his grandmother was apple rice meringue… I’d never heard of it. But I have the recipe now. It’s his birthday in a few weeks. Stay tuned.

Best Pumpkin Soup Ever
Best Pumpkin Soup Ever

Pumpkin is the G.O.’s favourite soup. I love it because it’s the easiest to make. I saw Beck from In Search of Golden Pudding’s Roasted Pumpkin Soup and decided it was time to turn into soup the pumpkin given to us in April by a Taylors Arm neighbour. Similar to Beck, baking on a non stick tray pumpkin pieces skin on with whole unpeeled onions and garlic until golden. When cool, scraping/squeezing out the softened vegetables into a saucepan, I blend them with stock… by mistake I added 1 tub of chicken and another of beef stock… it was delicious… plus a generous glug of macadamia oil to give the soup weight and depth, and season only with white pepper. This time inspired by Beck I also scraped in the caramelised cooking juices off the bottom of the pan. Best Pumpkin Soup Ever.

Vacu Vin Wine Saver
Vacu Vin Wine Saver

During winter in particular my motto is “I love cooking with wine—sometimes I even put it in the food”, so I was pleased when I re-discovered untried in the bottom of a draw the wine saver my sister gave me for Christmas… a few years ago… I like a drop of red in a glass or in the pot but the G.O. doesn’t drink it. The wine saver works by swapping the screw cap/cork with the stopper then using the pump to vacuum out the air inside that will turn the wine if left for too long. Not that it happens much!

The quiet transition from autumn to winter is not a bad time at all. It’s a time for protecting and securing things and for making sure you’ve got in as many supplies as you can. It’s nice to gather together everything you possess as close to you as possible, to store up your warmth and your thoughts and burrow yourself into a deep hole inside, a core of safety where you can defend what is important and precious and your very own. Then the cold and the storms and the darkness can do their worst. They can grope their way up the walls looking for a way in, but they won’t find one, everything is shut, and you sit inside, laughing in your warmth and your solitude, for you have had foresight.Tove Jansson, Moominvalley in November 

Thanks to Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting In My Kitchen and the IMK community for foodie inspiration & the virtual company they provide. If you’d like to join in, link back to Celia’s blog.

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40 thoughts on “In My Kitchen: baby, it’s cold outside…

    Beck @ Goldenpudding said:
    June 4, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks for the mention, and love the idea of the macadamia oil Ella, I’ll have to try your variation 🙂

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 5, 2015 at 9:39 am

      Pumpkin is such a versatile and simple soup. Mine has evolved over the years and just keeps getting better.

      Liked by 1 person

        Beck @ Goldenpudding said:
        June 5, 2015 at 2:09 pm

        I forgot to say before, I also have to get some enamelware! I’ve been eyeing off Celia’s roasters, and now I’m coveting your rice pudding dish – and the pudding!

        Like

          EllaDee responded:
          June 5, 2015 at 4:25 pm

          That is an old old dish but The Jamie Oliver range have lovely new ones.
          I’d forgotten how simple and delicious rice pudding is… nutmeg on top is a must have for me 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

    memoirsofahusk said:
    June 4, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Wheee! Food, red wine and Moomins all in one post, ‘these are a few of my favourite things’. Finn Family Moomintroll (1964 edition) is beside my bed at the moment – comfort reading for when Archaeo-Man is away a couple of nights in the company of other stone-tool and use-wear fixated folk. I can almost smell your pumpkin soup. What a shame you are heading into winter as we are finally, I hope, taking baby steps into something apporaching summer. Hope you both feel much better soon. M

    Liked by 1 person

      EllaDee responded:
      June 5, 2015 at 9:42 am

      I thought you’d like the Moomintroll quote. I quite like the change of feel and food going into winter. And as we’re heading to Taylors Arm this weekend, the fire will be lit and a glass or two of red wine enjoyed. Enjoy the good things of summer 🙂

      Like

    David Prosser said:
    June 4, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    I look forward to hearing how the apple rice meringue turns out for the G.O’s birthday but I hop by then you’ll both be over your bug (whatever it is) and be able to forage further afield like your farmer’s markets again.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

      EllaDee responded:
      June 5, 2015 at 9:43 am

      Thank you we’re on the mend, and going further afield to spend the Queen’s Birthday Holiday at Taylors Arm!

      Like

    katechiconi said:
    June 4, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    It must be that time of year. The Husband has just polished off a big pot of pumpkin soup to which I had added leftover sauce from a Moroccan chicken casserole. Cumin, coriander, ras al hanout, roasted capsicums, cinnamon. Ooooh, that and roasted pumpkin, apple and onion was a marriage made in heaven, and just goes to show that miracles can be achieved with leftovers…

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 5, 2015 at 9:43 am

      Sounds wonderful. Vege soups are just the best, they taste so much more than the sum of their parts!

      Like

    acflory said:
    June 4, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Synchronicity. 🙂 The daughter’s not feeling crash hot so I made rice pudding this afternoon and I’ll be turning it into rice pudding cake tomorrow. I love winter and winter food!

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 5, 2015 at 9:46 am

      Rice Pudding is definitely comfort food. I’m glad I rediscovered it. My previous attempt many years ago ended with me dropping the dish wrong side down on the oven door… and quite demoralised me…
      Daughter has a lovely mother 🙂

      Like

    Glenda said:
    June 4, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    Hi Ella, Great garage sale find and I love the look of your rice pudding. Maus loves rice pudding too.

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 5, 2015 at 9:47 am

      Thank you. I think bread and butter pudding is my favourite custardy pudding to eat but my Pa’s rice pudding is my sentimental favourite.

      Like

    philosophermouseofthehedge said:
    June 5, 2015 at 1:28 am

    Oooooh, rice pudding. the best I ever had was made in a little frame farmhouse in the middle of pastureland far from any wisp of civilization by an ancient aunt (who spoke no English) of a childhood friend we were lucky enough to visit once in a while. Have never been able to match it.
    Enjoy the folding into winter! We are beginning to swelter in spring and I am worried about how to get Molly exercise in the heat and humidity – she wants to DO SOMETHING – preferably outside.
    Hope you two feel better soon so you can enjoy the season turning

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 5, 2015 at 9:49 am

      I think that’s one of the things that deterred me from making rice pudding for many years… I couldn’t get it to taste like it did in my memory but the G.O. is happy with it and that’s what matters.
      Errrgh humidity… one of the saving graces of winter… there is none!

      Liked by 1 person

    Gerlinde said:
    June 5, 2015 at 1:43 am

    Your Pa’s rice pudding looks delicious, my mom used to cook rice with milk and add sugar and raisin and that was the meal. I enjoy reading about you getting ready for winter while we are in the middle of spring.

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 5, 2015 at 9:50 am

      The G.O. would be happy with your mother’s sweet rice, very tempting for sweet tooths 🙂

      Like

    Our Growing Paynes said:
    June 5, 2015 at 2:03 am

    Need some brass band instruments for the lurgy. Hope you are feeling better!

    Like

    ardysez said:
    June 5, 2015 at 7:12 am

    What an entertaining and informative post, Dale! My Dad also disliked rice in any form except rice pudding!! I only found this out very late in life. I wondered why we never ate rice at home when I was growing up. I am done buying cookbooks (she says resolutely) but I would buy that old one by Donna Hay just for the photos. I used to have a polaroid transfer photo in a frame and loved it. There is something unique about the quality of the images. I agree with you about Autumn, am thoroughly enjoying it. Thank you for playing with us! xx

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 5, 2015 at 9:55 am

      Thank you. Your Dad and the G.O. are now the only two people I’ve heard of that won’t eat plain rice. I thought the G.O. was playing up the aversion but once in a Mexican tortilla there was rice when he asked for none and his face was truly pitiful when he encountered it… and he can’t explain why… which of course I need to know! I never knew until a few years ago that my Dad hated pumpkin aka cow food… he plagued me with veges (which I now love) now I plague him with pumpkin soup 😉
      I too am trying not to buy more cook books, or any books… we have quite the oversupply but for a dollar I couldn’t resist, nor was I likely to even had it cost more!

      Like

    anne54 said:
    June 5, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    That quote from Tove Jansson is so serene. I love those books, the characters are delightfully quirky. As for rice puddings, I haven’t had it since I was a child. Unlike the G.O., I never liked the rice in it, but will happily eat rice in all other dishes. Smiles!

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 11, 2015 at 6:11 am

      There is something serene about winter when we can attune ourselves to it rather than against, enjoying its gifts. Rice is so quick and versatile, and the rice pudding is so quick and simple for me to make a quick smoko for the G.O. if there’s leftover milk.

      Like

    Kim Bultman said:
    June 7, 2015 at 4:58 am

    EllaDee, I’m so glad you mentioned rice pudding! My hubby doesn’t care for plain rice either, but he’ll eat it as pudding. I bet yours tasted extra good — or as close to your dear Dad’s recipe as possible — with those fresh eggs. Hope that “comfort food” helped you get over your colds. I loved the quote at the end of your post — storing up warmth and thoughts.

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 11, 2015 at 6:14 am

      Thank you. We’re quite well now, although this lurgy has a reputation for lingering. The rice pudding memory is actually from my grandfather who I called Pa but that’s a fantastic point, my Dad has just become Grandpa for the first time, and there’ll be such things he too can hand on 🙂

      Like

    Joanne T Ferguson said:
    June 7, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Love rice pudding and yours looks delicious! I enjoyed your grater and is there anything better than pumpkin soup when it’s cold outside!
    Thank you also for this month’s IMK view!

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 11, 2015 at 6:16 am

      I love rich think veg soups, so easy and rich when roasted. And like custard puddings are not only delicious but nutritious. Good old fashioned food.

      Like

    Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial said:
    June 8, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    I love that you made your grandfather’s rice pudding! And you’re so right about the eggs – there’s actually a colouring agent added to the grain mix which turns the yolks yellow. The garlic/ginger grater was a great find. The G.O. doesn’t eat rice? How does he survive Newtown? 🙂

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 11, 2015 at 6:20 am

      So annoying about the added colouring to so many things and rarely disclosed. Yellow yolks excite me. These days the offerings of Newtown don’t feature a lot in our eating but except for one unexpected occasion where rice was slipped into an enchilada he’s unscathed!

      Like

    tiffinbitesized said:
    June 8, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Gosh – sorry to here you’ve been so sick. What a drag. Glad you had a freezer stash to rely on. Wine saver… as if!

    Always interesting to see what’s happening xxx

    ps: thanks for the lovely Tove Jansson quote

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 11, 2015 at 6:23 am

      Thank you. We’ve quite recovered but the flu seems to have made an early start on many this season. A good reminder to look after ourselves and not over do it, in the spirit of a Moomin winter.

      Like

    Kirsty said:
    June 8, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    Great pick up at that garage sale, and quite a touch of fate picking up the grater. Just when you needed it to help fight off the lurgy with some lovely ginger tea. I hope you two are over the bug, nothing fun about being sick and missing trips to the markets. We only got out to two markets this weekend (thanks to nippy mornings and lying in bed too long). Stay warm, Kirsty

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 11, 2015 at 6:27 am

      We’re recovered now, and I’m desperate to get to the markets this weekend. The ginger tea has been wonderful for soothing the effects of the lingering lurgy cough. Honey, a knob of ginger and lemons are a must have now for us.

      Like

    sara said:
    June 8, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Oh dear, you still have the flu! That’s no good. It does sound like you are coping quite well though :). I do love a good roast pumpkin soup – I make a particularly delicious roast vege soup with pumpkin, sweet potato, tomato, carrot, onion and garlic all blitzed together. Mmm, I’ll make that tomorrow I think!

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 11, 2015 at 6:32 am

      Thank you. We’ve pretty much recovered now and the ginger, lemon, honey tea was the best thing for shifting it. Your roast veg soup is next on my list – yum! Also some roast vege stock for French onion soup. I love these wonderful variations that are so simple but unless shared I might not think of.

      Like

    Kourtney Heintz said:
    June 12, 2015 at 7:01 am

    Thanks for the comparison of the yolks–really drives home the difference. My dad swears by his wine vacuum. Let’s him have a glass over a couple weeks without compromising the wine.

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 12, 2015 at 7:28 am

      Celia’s comment that the orange yolks are the result of colour added to the feed grain is astounding! That’s how I like my red too, a glass here or there with a meal 🙂

      Like

    Cate said:
    June 29, 2015 at 5:36 am

    ooh the rice pudding looks delicious. I really miss pumpkin, it’s very rarely availabe here in Germany. Such a good month for IMK!

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 29, 2015 at 4:16 pm

      Thank you. The rice pudding is delicious and a lovely food memory here. What a shame about the lack of pumpkin. There really is no substitute but so many other good vegetable soups at least as an alternative 🙂

      Like

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