Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What's in my kitchen, July 2016

I skipped last month's in my kitchen round up. I nearly didn't make this month's either. We have been the house of sick here. With children in daycare, winter does tend to mean that we are all constantly teetering on the edge of illness, but I overbalanced off that edge and fell right into a chest infection. Probably the kids had it too, but they were much peppier than I was. I'm putting it down to the resilience of youth. It really couldn't have come at a worse time either (not that there is ever a good time to be ill). I work in a stream of technology related to payroll and the systems behind them, and the month leading up to the end of financial year is always busy. None the less, I'm on the mend and the work deadlines have eased so the end of financial year celebrations can now begin as well as a few other work milestones that were met simultaneously.

Although there is no central host for this month, here are some highlights from my July kitchen:

In my kitchen is...

Pei Pa Koa. I generally hate using cough syrups, but when it gets to the stage that I'm keeping myself and everyone else awake with my constant hacking, I resort to Pei Pa Koa, which is a herbal syrup that I obtain from my local asian grocer. By all reports it was originally developed by a physician back in the Qing Dynasty. It is taken orally, I usually just use a tablespoon and take it straight, although for my children I mix it into water and have them drink it.

It does contain honey so it is not vegan, but it works and I feel comforted using something that I have used over the years whenever I have been ill. There is something to be said for habits and traditions, which I'm sure contribute as much to a cure as real medicine does as well.

In my kitchen is...

In keeping with my chest infection, I found myself cross, thirsty, hot (perhaps a little fevered) and heaty. Yes, that was deliberate; I do mean hot and heaty as two separate symptoms. Instead of rushing to the doctor at the signs of illness, there are many, I suppose one would call them 'old Chinese wives tales' that can help cure what ails you. Traditional Chinese wisdom uses food as medicine, and the notion of cooling and heatiness relates to a balance of yin and yang within the body. In the Chinese context, barley water is good for cooling internal 'fire'  and calming a sore throat and other heat related issues. Apparently, the English used to serve barley water to the sick and infirm, so perhaps there is something to it all. Regardless, I wanted some, and so I cooked up a batch.

I didn't have the proper Chinese barley on hand, so mine was made with plain old pearl barley and not sweetened at all, although I did doctor the servings depending on my mood. Some were plain. Some were served with Pei Pa Koa mixed in. Some had some lemon and a splash of rum included too (perhaps not very traditional that last one!). I am not a rum drinker, but Mr Fork is and he nearly went into hysterics when he saw which of his precious rums I had chosen to use in my barley toddy (apparently it was a very good one). I have never seen the point of straining all the good barley bits, so I leave mine in when serving.
Pictured in a glorious glass bottle that has it's own little neoprene cover. I was gifted a set of these BBBYO (Beautiful Beaches, BYO) bottles by a dear friend of mine. They are wonderful - I use them for hot and cold drinks and find them one of the nicest reusable bottles I have ever used.

In my kitchen is...

The most amazing rocky road. Made by the Noosa Chocolate Factory in Noosa, Queensland, their rocky road comes in white, milk and dark chocolate varieties. Amazingly, and oddly not well advertised, their dark chocolate version is completely vegan! That's right, ninja vegan rocky road!! So good, it has me walking from one end to the other end of the city regularly to stock up. I've told them that they're missing a prime opportunity to cater to vegan chocoholics by shouting that from the rooftops, but they said that, although the machinery is cleaned in between batches, they do use the same machines for the milk versions as well, so can't 100% guarantee that there aren't trace ingredients.

It's my guilty pleasure. Guilty because, if I eat without restriction, I can quite easily polish off an entire bag in one sitting. Look at it though! I have no idea how they make such delicious marshmallow and jelly without the gelatine, but they've done a spectacular job of it. Many of their dark chocolate items are also vegan, but this one is my favourite.

In my kitchen is...

A gift from my work colleague who, knowing what a chocolate fiend I am, brought me a dark chocolate frog when she was up visiting from Melbourne recently. As she works very closely with me, I suspect that she is also feeling all kinds of relief that it is the end of financial year too. Perhaps a package of celebratory rocky road may need to find it's way to her desk soon.

I love that I have colleagues who love and appreciate me as much as I do them. I have been slowly nibbling away at this dark chocolate (vegan!) frog when I have a hot drink after dinner at night times. Mr Fork and my children all shun dark chocolate, so these treats are pretty much all mine (which means they last for ages and don't just disappear when my back is turned)...

In my kitchen is...

Lovely thick and hearty dahl, made from split peas. I've been making lots of legume meals lately. They're easy to make in bulk, freeze well for the nights I don't feel like cooking, and are so soothing and warm now that winter has settled in and the weather is most decidedly chilly. This particular version included tomato, coriander seeds that I'd dried from the garden, some mustard seeds and a whole bunch of lovely spices which made the house smell gorgeously fragrant. Served over some rice, it was a warming meal and perfect for soothing a sore throat.

There is no official link up for the In My Kitchen this month, so I'm just going to throw it out there to all... what's going on in your kitchen this month?

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