In My Kitchen, November 2014

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Kitchens, more than any other room in the house, have stories to tell. My kitchen isn’t very old: it was built in the early 1990s by my good friend Ian, a teacher with whom I worked for 10 years. I don’t know how he did it: he had no previous construction experience and managed to build this house, its kitchen and all the fittings, on weekends, holidays and after work.

We acquired the house in November 5 years ago, after living in temporary accommodation, sheds and house sits for around 10 months. I bought this house because I knew how well it was built: home builders often over build. Being made of mud brick, it reminded me of my old ‘muddy’ house where I lived for 30 years. The stars were aligned. He was selling, I was homeless. A perfect match.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In My Kitchen, which was Ian’s kitchen, the benches are generous and too high for me. He is over 6 feet tall and did much of the cooking: I am ‘vertically challenged’ at 5′ 2, and as a dear friend just reminded me, shrinking!  Lower the benches, raise the floor or wear high heeled sneakers in my kitchen? Despite these benches , I love the kitchen and don’t plan to renovate: it is such a costly business.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Some of the pine board walls may need whitening and I did replace the stove with a new Ilve.  I love the Pizza function and the extraordinary heat for making bread. Most of the other functions are untried as I tend to always use the fan forced setting.


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In my kitchen I make pizza once a week. This one is topped with onion confit, white anchovies, olives and fresh oregano.

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In my kitchen I make bread, thanks to the mentoring of Celia, host of this monthly event at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. I  have finally found the perfect bread for us. It’s an offspring of a few different recipes that came my way.  We call this bread ‘son of Craig’. It contains a mixture of white flour, wholemeal flour, rye flour and linseed meal and remains moist and fresh for days. Some days it is perfect: other days, it over proves when I get distracted. 

Son of Craig
Son of Craig

In my kitchen, the meals are simple. Pasta and soups are made with garden produce and a few pantry staples.  Lentils, chick peas, borlotti beans and pasta are sometimes garnished with a smoked trout or fetta, oil and Parmigiano.

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My Kitchen isn’t ‘House and Garden’: it is often messy and cluttered. It’s warm in winter and cool in summer. And now, after five years, it feels like hearth and home. It works hard for me and I am grateful and satisfied with its flaws and its assets, and I thank the builder and his wife.

A simple middle eastern lunch at casa mia.
A simple middle eastern lunch for the family.

 

76 thoughts on “In My Kitchen, November 2014”

  1. Thanks for the peek into your charming country kitchen Francesca. When we renovated our kitchen and installed an Ilve cooker i went to their free cooking classes, I use all the functions, they are all amazing, incan send you a copy the handout if you like. The turbo grill is especially useful. Very impressed with your bread!

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  2. Your kitchen looks lovely! I’m only 5’2″ as well, and our previous house had benches that were built by the owner for him and his tall wife! There are several mud brick houses around us in our current home and our own is ‘rammed earth’ which hubby calls ‘our pile of dirt’. Your breads look delicious. Thank you for letting us have a look at your kitchen and heart of your home.

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    1. Ah, so we have even more in common, Ardys. We both live in a mud house. In our last muddy, we used rammed earth for the sheds, a much faster way to get the walls up. We live in a shire noted for its mud brick and rammed earth buildings. Many burnt down in the 2009 bushfire, a loss to the area. Since then, there has been an environemntal backlash against building in mud, Some claim that they need to be double bricked- with an airpocket for insulation between. This would be hideously expensive to build and has led to a downturn in choosing mud. I am not sure that they are correct, but local shire planning departments have far too much power and are often swayed by the loudest voice.

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  3. I have complete kitchen envy now! Looks like you have wonderful light in there too. My kitchen was also built for giants. I seem to have a kick step constantly near my feet – I even need it to open the windows, never mind reach into the cupboards!! You’ve had lots of lovely food pass through – the salmon/trout and lentils look gorgeous!!

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    1. Thankyou Selma. The smoked trout dish was based around a creamy lentil recipe from ‘When French Women Cook’ by Madeleine Kamman, recommended by Debi at My Kitchen Witch. I just added a few indulgent toppings.
      There are a few of us shorties about it seems!

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  4. Your kitchen looks like a wonderful, welcoming space Francesca! The first thing I noticed was those beautiful green thermoses. I loves thermoses and have quite a collection but they are all different. It looks like your collection is perfectly matched!

    All of your food looks hearty and wholesome. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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    1. I can’t help myself with green thermoses- I just love them. These ones don’t get used. I have some blue ones which I use for yoghurt making. These old Hong Kong beauties are cecoming hard to find. I am after a green one with the logo saying- Two Goats- and then I will be happy.

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  5. Your kitchen is beautiful…and I love that lentil dish. My mother’s kitchen is the opposite of yours. She is vertically challenged and had her kitchen benches made lower. Now, I’m definitely not tall but it is challenging to work in her kitchen for any length of time and awfully hard on the old back.

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  6. Your hand-built house & kitchen looks and sounds amazing! How wonderful that you know its providence so well. I’m an average 5′ 8″ and hadn’t considered the effect less height would have. As well as your food, I’m always admiring of your bowls and interesting kitchenalia, and that it is both on display and used for everyday 🙂

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  7. Lovely, lovely kitchen. Just a suggestion – raised platform to stand on around the counters? Wild west style, but it would make those tall counters more accessible. I make pizza once a week, too. Friday night is pizza night here to share with friends at the end of (an often fraught) work week. The onion confit looks great on the pizza base and I bet it tasted just as good. By the way, love the collection of bowls!

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    1. I may fall of the wild west platform, dashing about as I do. I have considered a floating floor in rubber, with a kind of ramp thingy at the entry to the work area.
      Pizza nights are a symbol marking the end of the week. A great way to celebrate with friends and wine, after the work is done.

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  8. Lovely Francesca, what a glorious post! Your kitchen space is so open and welcoming, even if the benches are too tall for you, and it was clearly built with great love. And how fabulous your bread looks! Craig will be seriously chuffed – I’m sending him the link to this post now! I love your line of green thermoses too! xxx

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    1. The bread is now routine , xxx, and I love those green thermoses so much: I think they may have featured on IMK before. Old Hong Kong art, slowly disappearing. I’m after one with the gold logo brand ‘Two Goats’ , which I owned before the bushfire. This brand appeals to my warped sense of humour.

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  9. Your kitchen looks wonderful Francesca. I can almost feel its nourishing character through the internet ether. Your bread as well – it looks wonderful… really wonderful. That is the joy of baking I think – picking up ideas and making something that captures your own character and that of your oven and kitchen home.

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    1. Thanks Craig for taking a peak inside my St Andrews kitchen. I know how well you relate to the Mudbrick house syndrome, having worked in a Paul built mud brick bakery. The bread recipe you sent has had a solid workout, and gets adapted at times with linseed meal, ( instead of seeds) just for fun. I should venture out a bit more so that I don’t ever tire of ‘Son of Craig’.

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  10. Your kitchen looks so warm and inviting. It’s homely and cosy and feels lovely, even through pictures. I love your bread and that lunch looks amazing. What a glorious space you have

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  11. Your kitchen to me is House and Garden and so much more, it is beautiful and so homely looking. What a perfect setting for your beautiful bread. Wish I could come over and do some photography in your kitchen. 🙂

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  12. Francesca, your kitchen is open and “airy” and absolutely lovely, but what a challenge for you height-wise! I hope you can find a suitable, safe solution for utilizing your counters comfortably. Many (many) years ago I faced a “reverse” situation — the mother of a family I babysat for was very petite, too, and her kitchen was customized to accommodate her height (or lack of it) — I felt like I was cooking in a doll house! 🙂 My suggestion — and I don’t know if it would be feasible — is to have your builder friend put in a “false floor?” Easier to raise the floor than to scale down the counters. (And no falling off!)

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  13. Francesca your kitchen is marvelous. What a lovely home you have. It certainly is a home with character and you seem to fill it so beautifully with wonderful “stuff”. You speak of it with such pride and love, that your kitchen sounds like the heart of your home and with you in it. Lovely 🙂

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  14. Loving your kitchen, such a lovely story & very heart felt – a kitchen that’s well loved produces beautiful food 🙂 I wish my benches were higher, I get a sore back bending all the time. I’m not 6ft though & we don’t own our place but one day. Loving all your simple, earthy meals – delicious. Thanks for a look at IMK

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    1. Thanks Lucy. I had a peep at yur posts and look forward to viewing more. My Italy may need to remain in my mind and dreams for a while- I try to get there every three years for a long wander.

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  15. Hi Francesca, your kitchen is beautiful and so warm, you feel welcome just from the picture.
    At 6 foot I am envious of your bench height!
    The trout and lentils look delicious and what a lucky family for the middle eastern feast, relaxed and full of flavour.
    cheers
    Jason

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  16. Stunning, both the food and your kitchen!!!! I am 6ft tall, so I think you had better sell your house to me as your kitchen would be perfect!!!! Thanks for sharing! Liz x

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  17. Your kitchen is so incredibly ‘homely’ I just love it!!!!
    hehe I’m also vertically challenged and find all our high cupboards frustrating to get into. We have a little stool stored close by so I can reach them!!!! lol

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