In My Kitchen, August 2014

View from the kitchen windows.
View from my kitchen window.

In My Kitchen, I have assembled a few representatives of my Australiana collection, as I still call Australia home when not overcome by the need to leave or travel.  Celia, at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, generously hosts this monthly kitchen event.  Sit down, grab a coffee and take a look at other kitchens around the globe.

Temproary home for displaced items
Temporary residency for the displaced.

Things lurk in kitchen drawers, on benches or in the pantry and are ridiculously retro in style. Tins house biscuits or serve as decor, bowls provide colour, drawers are laden with linen.

Old Allens tin with Budgies. Much cuter than that other Budgie Smuggler man in speedos.
Budgerigar tin made by Allens, Melbourne.  Much classier than the Budgie Smuggler speedos favored by a certain Prime Minister.

My daughter entered the kitchen brandishing this rolling-pin in a proprietorial manner, teasing me about her wonderful op shop find.  She fully intended to give it to me, but wanted to hear me beg. So mean. Revenge is sweet.  I find things for her collections, claiming ownership for a time, then hand them over. Collectors need scouts in the field.

Porcelain rolling pin. Made in Melbourne in the 60s?
Porcelain rolling pin. Date unkown. Weapons of pastry construction.

The teatowel collection is mighty large. All linen, retro and very colourful, they depict Australian birds, outback scenes, 70s beer labels, flora and fauna, and silly poetry. They are cheery and soft to use and are handy in bread making, or useful as gift wrapping, alla Australian-Japanese kind of wrapping.  An unused retro teatowel is often the same price as a sparkly piece of paper.  Which would you prefer? The retro linen teatowel collection. I must confess to an Italian teatowel collection too!  Some of these Aussie Icons don’t get used;  they are works of art!

This classic Teatowel stays in the linen press.
North Queensland Kitsch.
 In north Queensland, Chinese workers from the goldfields established banana plantations in the 1880s around Cooktown, Port Douglas, Cairns, Innisfail and Tully.
Italian migrant labour enabled the sugar industry to thrive, after indentured  ‘kanaka’ slave labour ceased in 1901.*
Italian migrants to Tully also furthered the Australian banana industry in the 1920s.*

I make pizza and bread quite often and this Wallaby baker’s flour is just right. The flour is super fresh due to high turnover, it is GMO free, strong, and the wheat is grown in South Australia. The company is still owned by the Laucke family who have been milling flour since 1899.

Lauke Bakers flour from South Australia
The Laucke family migrated from Germany in the 1890s. What a wonderful contribution they have made to this country.

I am making a shift to Australian grown and owned products. Although I love the taste of Italian tomatoes, I am concerned about the labour exploitation involved in its production. The SPC company in Shepparton, Victoria, has struggled to maintain its operation, due to the dumping of cheap foreign goods. The Australian anti- dumping commission found that

‘56% of tomatoes imported from Italy had been dumped on Australia and two of the major exporters, I.M.C.A and Lodato, had been selling them for about 26% below their value.’

The peanut butter shown is made wholly from Queensland’s peanuts and is produced by an Aussie owned company. Whilst not wishing to sound overly patriotic, I do believe in supporting local industries. It’s good for the environment as well as supporting employment opportunities in regional towns. The detailed information on the packaging is often initially confusing  as to country of origin so now I need to take reading glasses shopping with me.

Beans means= SPC.
Beans means SPC.  Shepparton is home to 3000 Iraqis, 1300 Afghans and 1200 Sudanese, along with long standing Greek and Italian communities. Many are employed by SPC Ardmona.

Next in line are these burnt matchstick bread boards featuring Kookaburras, gum leaves, and that bridge in Sydney. As they are collector items, they are rarely used.

Australian Burnt matchstick breadboards.
Australian Burnt matchstick bread boards.

I have previously mentioned my passion for Australian pottery basins and bowls on IMK. Here is the full collection. These were made by either Hoffman or Fowler, between the 1930s and 1960s. The Hoffman pottery, located in Brunswick, Victoria, may still be seen today. Although no longer functioning, its kiln and tower have been incorporated into a modern townhouse development.

Collected Australian bowls by Fowler and Hoffman.
Collected Australian bowls by Fowler and Hoffman.

But wait, there’s more. The Arnotts biscuit tin collection, once Australian owned, covered in a plethora of parrots, Aussie honey, Tasmanian smoked salmon in the fridge, Maffra cheese, Diana ware jugs, Vegemite ( the latter icon being Australian made but now foreign-owned, is disqualified) as is Uncle Tobys ( now a subsidiary of Nestle`).

This post was brought to you by Op Shops ( thrift shops/charity stores), home of the ‘well- spotted’, and recycling.

Blokies on the kitchen bench.
Blokies sit along the kitchen bench.
  1. https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/eserv/UQ:210147/p9780646519197_2_165.pdf
  2. http://www.australianbananas.com.au/banana-facts/world-history

70 thoughts on “In My Kitchen, August 2014”

  1. Great post Francesca, nothing quite as fun as op-shopping… a lovely collection of Australiana… and I am with you on the buy Australian thing for sure!

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  2. What a great post Francesca. Love those bowls, and I hadn’t realised Shepperton was such a multicultural mix these days. I, too, try to support all the Australian products I can. Another very good Australian peanut butter (and other spreads) is made by http://www.mayvers.com.au Many of the products those of you in larger metro areas have access to, I don’t here in Alice, but this is a good one. Thank you Francesca!

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    1. Thanks for the tip re peanut butter. I went to Safeway the other day and stood in front of all the tomato cans. The home branded ones were made from Italian tomatoes. The colourful canned others were also all Italian. After hunting a bit, on a row below eye level, I found ONE source of Australian tomatoes, just one. SPC Ardmona. I am sure there used to be more. Today when I venture out, I’ll check Coles and IGA. I’m on a mission.

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  3. Great post Francesca, it’s a tough call between buying local, price and quality. The rolling pin is a beauty and quite unique, and the round decorated bread boards remind me of my childhood. I have a small collection of Aussie tea towels too, they remind me of holidays. Re the caption under the model of Australia, it makes me ashamed to think that such greedy and mean spirited people govern us!

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    1. It’s nice to know that you read the underlying theme in the Austrliana issue of IMK.
      I know about the local versus price thing- it is always a dilemma. But , as I mentioned to Ardy, we used to have Aussie tomatoes on the Supermarket shelves. Now only one brand of remains, SPC, and for how long? Expect more tomato can posts!

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  4. Hi Francesca. I love that rolling pin. I would have killed for it. Your daughter is a brave woman holding out on you. I also love your bowls, the colours are so gentle. I have a pile of souvenir tea towels, they were my mums, it appears she bought some whenever she went on holidays. I try to buy only Australian made food. I believe, we need to keep our Australian food production alive and well. We can do without TVs and hi-fis but food is important.

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  5. G’day and what a great post Francesca and love op shops as you never know what you will find!
    I love your bread bowls and your post makes me proud to be an Aussie and did not know that re the dumping of tomatoes, so thanks for allowing me to learn something new; my post will be on the way soon! Cheers! Joanne

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  6. I will now be even more diligent in my local, ethical shopping efforts… groan… and in my tinned tomato selection, switching to SPC Ardmona. I find it frustrating the amount of research that has to be done, and I thank you for the recommendations.
    I love your Australiana collection, and what a great idea to use the tea towels as wrapping. I’ll keep my eye out for some and do the same… if I can bear to part with them 🙂

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    1. Yees, parting with retro gems is hard.But people do like receiving fifts wrapped in them. Most of mine come from Savers. I have known about the Italian dumping scandal for some years, but I have to admit, they taste better than SPC. I wonder if one should campaign Ardmona and get them to use Roma tomatoes?

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  7. Fantastic collection of mixing bowls and tea towels (I have similar, though American/British). Am lusting after that ceramic rolling pin. Lovely Australiana! Never thought I’d be learning so much about Australia until I started this blogging thing. Opens up a whole new world for me.

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  8. What a great post – I just love that budgie tin. And I had no idea Shepparton had such a large immigrant population. I bet there’s some fantastic eating to be done there.

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    1. Yes, Shepparton is home to many new arrivals, most of whom arrived here as refugees. There are other industries which have relocated to Shepparton.
      BTW, I can’t load your IMK post. I have viewd all the others on Celia’s site but yours won’t load. Thought I should tell you.

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  9. Francesca, look at those little faces! How do you ever get anything done in the kitchen when they’re in there? I’d be completely distracted. And thanks for all the info – I did wonder why Italian tomatoes are so cheap on the supermarket shelves. The peanut butter looks delish, and I’m intrigued by the name “burnt matchsticks” – why are they called that? They’re beautiful – must be hard to resist using them!

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    1. Those little blokes are very distracting, especially when I am making a cake and we have to sing the ‘six drops of the essence of terror…may I lick the spoon” song or when we start dancing to youtube things on the kitchen computer. Special kitchen dancing. The boys line up for vita brits on the bench, then toast, always the same diet. Then there are also the visiting girls,one Princess and the other a chef. Nothing much gets done at all.
      The Italian tomato takeover is nearly complete. It’s my fault, it’s our fault- now SPC is the only aussie canning group left, I bought Italian tomatoes because they were cheaper and becasue they taste good. Now australian tomatoes have almost disappeared and watch those Italian tomatoes go up in price.
      I think I mis- labelled those bread boards. The craft is called pokerwork and it was mostly a male craft I think, involving burning the design into the wood with a hot implement, then painting it with inks. It is hard to find these days. Here’s a link. http://amusine.typepad.com/art/some-like-it-hot-pokerwork-as-art.html

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        1. It’s worth restoring this fabulour song and creating a new generation of Milton the Monster fans. “I’m Milton, your brand new son” Amazing Celia that you recognised this classic from a few scraps of lyric.

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  10. I love your tea-towel collection. I didn’t know about the exploitation of workers with Italian tomatoes but I don’t buy them anyway as I always try to support Australian farmers and Aussie brands. They need all the support they can get! xx

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    1. Yes they do need lots of support. But I have noticed that aussie tomatoes seem to be disappearing form the supermarket shelves. Coles is the best at displaying SPC Ardmona, Safeway not so good. The Italian ones in both supermarkets are cheaper and so will naturally attract buyers on a budget.

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  11. I absolutely agree about buying local (except of course my local isn’t yours) and if we don’t support our own country then the producers will go out of business. Politicians don’t see this as a problem but then there’s lot of things they get wrong. I suspect that all our canned tomatoes are Italian – the joy of European community.
    Love your bowls.

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  12. Its adding to the food bill, but Aussie tomatoes and canned fruit is all I buy now. I tend to shop at Coles for convenience and have found they have a good range of locally canned tomatoes. There are many other local vs imported issues, like shampoo and conditioner, but that’s for another blog on another day.
    We have some lovely Australiana here which is on show occasionally depending on the whim of the exhibitor. The frequency of display is unpredictable and I have no idea where they are hidden when not in favour.

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    1. I love rotating displays,retro that comes out on show and then goes back into hiding again. The whim of the exhibitor indeed. Maybe you could send me some photos next time the display changes Maya.

      Coles stock a more prominent display of Australian tomatoes I noticed. The Italians were below and on the sides, allowing the buyer to see the SPC- Ardmona ones first. Woolworths does the opposite. This could be a campaign in itself.
      A similar discussion re oranges appears on http://pleasepasstherecipe.com/.

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  13. The Rockhampton tea towel made me nostalgic as I grew up not far from there.

    I am now also craving some “ridiculously delicious” peanut butter! I must keep an eye out for that one!

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  14. Love the Australiana! I buy Australian as much as possible and won’t ever buy imported tomatoes or pineapple etc 🙂

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  15. Love your Australiana. The bowls are just gorgeous. The flour is my flour of choice too. And the tea towels really tickle my fancy – I have a bit of a collection – which we use with love. I would just love a present wrapped in a tea towel.

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  16. Francesca, this was a fascinating post — I learned so much and can see why your heart yearns to ‘buy local.’ Thanks for the history lesson and the patriotic peek into your kitchen — and Australia!

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  17. What a fun filled post. Love the tea towels! I try to buy local as well, though the price is always higher. All the more reason I try to grow more and preserve what I am able to.

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  18. I love that budgie tin. And the bowls … be still my beating heart! I am a huge advocate of buying locally, but I get around the tomato & fruit issue by preserving all of my own from local produce in summer. I am still working my way through the stocks so haven’t had to buy yet. My next task is to make tomato paste, then I will be completely self sufficient in tomatoes.

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    1. Wow Tania, I am impressed. My last season’s tomato crop was not so prolific due to an awful summer of blasting heat and many days in a row of 44c. Maybe next summer….

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  19. What a lovely post and such great collections, I especially love the bowls. Thank you for sharing all the tomato information as well, food for thought! My tomatoes in our little veggie patch are dying on the vine unfortunately at the moment although it’s not really the season for them just yet!

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  20. Ciao Francesca, love the Australiana theme what a good idea.
    I like the wallaby flour too, and you know you’re a baker when you by in 5kg bags.
    Love the focus on Australian produce, do you got to the farmers market?
    cheers
    Jason

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    1. Good old Wallaby – its a cheap and reliable product. No, I don’t go to farmer’s markets as I grow a fair bit of stuff here. I go to regular markets to do most of my shopping- Preston market, Vic Market or buy the odd veg at a green grocer.I am slowly finding that the big 2 supermarkets are only good for toilet paper and chemicals,maybe a can of milo and so on.

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      1. I did love a bit of the Preston market, I have been loving the farmers market for the meat, best chickens of my life!
        I avoid the big 2 for loo paper by subscribing to who gives a crap, comes delivered and price is about the same and it helps others.. win win
        now I want some milo!

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  21. What an absolutely fabulous In My Kitchen you have this month! I think your Australian Them is wonderful! I use Wallaby flour too it is always reliable and makes great bread when I do my demonstrations! Thanks for sharing! Liz x

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  22. This is such a wonderful collection of things, and though they are homey to you they are utterly exotic to me (that view out your window in particular). I’d love to receive a gift wrapped in a tea towel – what a great idea. And that row of bowls has me itching for a wooden spoon…

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    1. Thanks. A few years ago I recieved a lovely cookbook wrapped in a Madras cotton Teatowel. I have tried to do the same since then, well, only with those who would appreciate it.

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  23. Managed to visit Austrailia for the first time this year and it is such an amazing place, no wonder you are so proud of everything Austrailian in your kitchen. Great looking rolling pin and am sure it is a delight to roll pastry with. Thanks for the peek into your very Australian kitchen. 🙂

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