In My Kitchen, August 2014

Some of my favorite posts to read (and write!) are In My Kitchen. Pop over to Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for a list of posts, and perhaps you’d like to join in too?
I thought I wouldn’t be posting this month, but things kept catching my eye, so here I am again with a few things to show you.
In my kitchen there is:

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a skull! We went out for a walk last week and Kaya found this half a skull and wanted to take it home. It is in the kitchen because I have become the mediator in a silent war between Kaya and Lulu. Lulu wants to chew on the skull, and Kaya wants to scrutinise it and pull out its teeth. (That is why it looks a bit dishevelled.) And it turns out that it once belonged inside the head of a wild boar.
In my kitchen there is:

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kombucha in various stages of fermentation. The one on the right is a second fermentation with ginger and turmeric to make it fizzy (and delicious), and the one on the left is a new batch that I fermented with osmanthus oolong tea. I was extra excited about that one, since I really love osmanthus tea. Because I took this photo almost a week ago, I can now report that the tea retains all of its loveliness when fermented with a kombucha culture. Interestingly, the Domestic Man posted a profile of an interesting business in Portland OR called Salt Fire and Time. They seem to make exceptional bone broths (which can be purchased online, if anyone’s interested) but also deal in flavoured kombucha, including osmanthus! I first encountered these flowers in Hangzhou, where they burst into bloom in early autumn and perfume the entire city. They don’t look like much (think daphne flowers) but they have a sweet fruity scent that is hard to forget. It’s the stuff of Proustian flashbacks to be sure.
(Kombucha is a yeast and bacteria colony, by the way (the mothers are often referred to as SCOBY – a Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) that you add to sweetened tea. The scoby digests the sugar and ferments the tea so that you are left with a slightly sour, slightly fizzy drink rich with beneficial bacteria. Each fermentation produces a new little scoby, which is why it is so wild and wooly up on top of that new batch – there’s a stack of scobys in there!)
I have been reading and using Nigel Slater’s lovely little book, Eat, a lot lately. Sometimes a cookbook will become the source of all knowledge for a spell, and this one helped me out of a few jams recently. Ali brought home a whole quarter of a lamb not too long ago and I ended up with a few cuts of meat (after a crash course in lamb butchery) that I am not accustomed to cooking, like lamb belly. There was a wonderful recipe in Eat for it, and one for lamb fillet, or loin, as well. Then, while reading through, I noticed a recipe for a Spanish tortilla that called for “banana shallots.” I thought that sounded appealing and a little humorous, and wondered if they were something that I could grow. Imagine my surprise when I caught sight of these elongated shallots among the alliums at the market not too long afterwards!

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They are very delicious, and since Ali is away for a few days I have been subsisting on Spanish tortillas.
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen!