Wednesday, 30 January 2013

In My Kitchen In January

I've wanted to join in Celia's inspired "In My Kitchen" series for a while. It's a lovely way of keeping a record of what goes on in the heart of a home. And you can tell a lot about the the weave of what's going on in the rest of life, way beyond the kitchen, from the ordinary warp and weft of kitchen doings.  I love the hidden stories that such everyday things tell. As January is nearly over and it would be nice to look back at a year's story of what's been happening in my kitchen at the end of 2013, I am posting this only just in time but better late than never!

The story my kitchen has been telling in January is through...

... N├╝rnberger Elisenlebkuchen made according to a German recipe I found here in my search to recreate those delectable, soft, German, spiced cookies that sometimes come in lovely musical box tins which play "Silent Night". I have tried my hand at various Lebkuchen recipes over the years but until now, have not got it right. I discover that the secret is that the "echt" version contains no flour and a lot of candied peel. Although my German is sketchy, I think I have more or less figured the recipe out correctly and the results are extremely moreish. Just as well as the recipe made over sixty cookies! The biscuits sit on round wafers called "Oblaten" which, if you are in the UK, you can get from the German Delicatessen here. They are a bit like the large priests' wafers used at Mass. You could always use rice paper, torn or cut into squares as an alternative. You need something though, as the Lebkuchen are soft and quite sticky. They should be kept in a tin before eating and they do improve over time although they are extremely good straightaway, if you are greedy, like Mrs T, and can't wait for them to mature for a week before trying them!


... My Procrustean chopping board! Procrustes was a very unpleasant individual in Greek mythology who forced his guests to sleep in a particular bed. If they were too tall, he cut bits off them and if they were too short he stretched them on a rack. Nasty. Like all the best stories it has an underlying message and the myth is alluding obliquely to the human desire to make the world fit ourselves rather than the other way round. Not good. Anyway, I digress! My chopping board is Procrustean because although I don't stretch it, I do keep chopping bits off it! I bought it originally from the market in Sansepolcro, in Umbria, about ten years ago to replace an old mahogany one my grandfather had made my grandmother in the 1940s. Used by her, and then me, everyday, it gave way under the strain and had to retire, at least from everyday chopping duty. This one was a bit of a bargain but it was too long and rather heavy so it had an inch sawn off the end. The truncated version was just right but unfortunately constant use and washing and then drying on a drainer that does not drain very well, had caused it to split and worse, develop a most off-putting culture of black mould. In her January mood of noticing and clearing up mess and clutter, Mrs T held up her paws in horror and decreed another inch had to be sawn off! So here it is, still with some visible splits, but hygienic again and I am trying to allow it to dry, after use, more carefully.


... Carrot and red lentil soup with dill - snow food when everyone was home and hungry and I couldn't get to the shops. Very good actually. Just an onion, a bit over a kg of carrots and about 100g red lentils cooked in the pressure cooker for five minutes with a litre of homemade stock and blitzed to a nice, thick, comforting puree with a bunch of fresh dill, past its sell by date, but still apparently in the land of the living.


... Chai latte spices mixed according to Anne's wonderful recipe here waiting to be made into frothy chai lattes like the one below.



... Tins too nice to throw into the recycling bin. I confess it, I am a sucker for nice food packaging. I buy both olive oil and wine because I like the labels as much as for the contents! The French olive oil tin came from Waitrose and the olive tin H brought back from his Greek trip in the autumn with the fattest and most splendid kalamata olives inside, that either he or I had ever seen. Now that both oil and olives are spent, the tins are sitting on my kitchen windowsill while I wonder what to do with them. Possibly I might grow herbs in them. They are far too jolly to throw out, anyway.


... I said I was a sucker for packaging! This is a special edition ceramic Marmite jar that contains, not Marmite, although it did originally hold a tiny pot of the stuff when I bought it, but newly-whizzed-up porridge oats which I blitz in the food processor, a bag at a time, to make my own version of instant porridge for breakfast on winter mornings. Much cheaper and nicer than any commercially produced, "instant hot oat cereal". Normally I am in too much of a rush to add anything fancy but there is always time for a quick swirl of maple syrup as in the pic below!



... My new hyacinth-blue, flower-pot jacket, that I crocheted to cover a pot of budding hyacinths brightening a corner of the kitchen work surface. I used the remnants of a skein of beautiful, variegated Noro Light Silk Garden yarn left over from a recent make and I'm rather pleased with it, not least because I designed it myself and it worked!



Have a look at Celia's inspirational blog Fig Jam And Lime Cordial for her wonderful culinary explorations and to see what is going on in kitchens round the world!







23 comments:

  1. What lovely glimpses of your kitchen Mrs T. I'm intrigued by the blitzed porridge - does it mean you can just make it with hot milk like readybrek? Lucy xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! It's a doddle! I know proper porridge can be made quickly but this is even speedier. I use about 120 ml cold milk stirred into one and a half tbsps whizzed oats and microwave in the bowl (covered with a saucer) for two blasts of forty seconds each, stirring in between. A larger quantity might take a few seconds longer but not much. E x

      Delete
  2. I love seeing what's going on in people's kitchens. Your board made me smile. I'm sure there is a greek myth that would describe mine. It gradually loses bits all by itself. Possibly as a bid for retirement!

    For my short of time cookie mix, I use the 1 litre jars. I have quite a collection now and it does save time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much - glad about the size of the cookie mix jars as I have a number of those and they are marshalling ready for deployment! E x

      Delete
  3. What a lovely post - I too love a nosy round other people's kitchens. Yours looks warm and busy and full of colour and flavour.

    I also buy things purely for the packaging and adore your olive containers. They will look so pretty potted up with fresh herbs.

    Gillian x

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the peep into your kitchen. The chai latte looks perfect for this time of year. I must admit I often cheat and just use chai tea bags for a similar but different treat when I'm trying not to drink too much milk! x

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dear E
    Those tins are gorgeous and I think your idea of herbs would be lovely. You could also put a jar (assuming you could find one to fit) inside and use them as vases as well. The crocheted plant pot cover has the most beautiful colours too - congratulations on that wonderful make.
    Best wishes
    Ellie

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lots of lovely things, but then my head is always turned by anything foody! I like the sound of the biscuit recipe, I'm afraid I could eat those by the bucketload, so maybe I shouldn't follow the link!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Your chopping board and story about Procrustes was hilarious - thank you just what I needed on a gloomy and very windy Wednesday. I can't make up my mind about chai lattes but the German cookies sound delicious. Personally I think good things come to those who can't wait too!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm glad Lucy asked about the whizzed oats, because I was about to, and now I know! But Elizabeth - you need a new chopping board. Mount that one on the kitchen wall as art and fond memories.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I do love chai lattes but have never made them myself. Your culinary tour was delightful as well as educational:)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I did enjoy this post and had forgotten to pop over and read your news. I will add you to my Google Reader. Thanks for your nice comment on my blog :-)

    ReplyDelete
  11. You always inspire me and teach me something new. A lifelong breakfast porridge eater why have I never thought to blitz my porridge oats into something finer?!

    Do grow herbs in your tins, that's what I do with such things and they brighten my kitchen and are always a talking point with visitors :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Lots's of lovely culinary delights in this post Elizabeth, I love spending time in my kitchen too, those German biscuits look delicious and I love the idea of covering flower pots with colourful woolly jackets. x

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Elizabeth, I agree with the other comments. What a lovely post. Great photos and interesting items. Your poor chopping board! I think some wood filler and a good rub with olive oil would make it very happy.

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a wonderful post- filled right up with fun, information, and ideas and recipes! Thanks for joining in this month- I enjoyed this little kitchen visit so much.

    ReplyDelete
  15. What an interesting post this was. Procrustean...I learned all kinds of concepts here. Guess we all have an unsavory part of our personalities that wants things "our way". Your poor cutting board.

    You have been quite busy in your kitchen with wonderful results. And your blue dress for the bulb makes for a happy hyacynth

    ReplyDelete
  16. A proper chai latte! I love your tins - far too good to throw out and they'd look wonderful on a sunny windowsill filled with herbs.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love food packaging, too. Tins containing tea, pretty jam jars, candy with cellaphane and ribbon wrappers, pretty wine bottles. I'm happy my husband has taken over much of the grocery shopping, though, as I don't have as many opportunities to indulge in impetuous food purchases. I liked seeing your interesting, healthy recipes, too. We've had a lot of meat and potatoes in my house lately.

    ReplyDelete
  18. E, what an interesting kitchen you have! I love the stories, particularly the one behind your shrinking board! And a crocheted flower pot holder! How cute is that! Lovely post - please join in next month as well, as it's been wonderful to peek into your kitchen! :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Such a lovely kitchen! Your soup looks delicious and something that I'd definitely enjoy. I too am a sucker for packaging- how could you possibly part with those tins?! Thanks for sharing and looking forward to reading more posts!

    ReplyDelete
  20. what a lovely post. your Lebkuchen looks wonderful.
    have a nice evening,
    regina

    ReplyDelete
  21. So lovely to see in your kitchen - that soup looks absolutely delicious and I love you olive oil tins, a gorgeous way to grow some herbs ; )

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit me at Mrs TT's and comment. I love to read what you write.