In my first ever “In My Kitchen” post (idea filched from Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial) I doubted that I could be fascinating on a regular monthly basis – yet here I am again! Whether gloating and showing off about some of the foodie-type loot that I brought back from my vacation in North America is fascinating is, obviously, up to you to judge – but I’m dead chuffed with my treasures and wanted to share them with you.
Whilst in Canada I was driven wild with desire at the sight of an enormous range of maple syrup and maple syrup products and the gob-smackingly low prices of them. I wanted to bring home so much of it, but it just wasn’t practical to try to lug heavy bottles of that amber-coloured bliss all through the USA, so I compromised on these little jars of maple butter and just one packet of cookies. The maple butter is heavenly on hot crumpets and I have the one remaining jar secreted away in the back of the pantry – as far from thieving fingers as I could get it. And the chocolate maple cookies – they’re history! (Interestingly, the cookies were produced by Heart Industries which is where, in my body, I suspect most of the fat from them has lodged.)
I take my responsibilities as a chocolate lover very seriously and make a point of thoroughly researching it whenever the opportunity arises. There is no point in holding oneself out as some sort of authority in the field if one is not prepared to go the hard yards and, when it comes to chocolate tasting, I will not be found lacking in application. Scharffen Berger was originally an artisan chocolate brand which has subsequently been purchased by Hersheys. They still produce a large range of chocolate of various blends, origins, beans and cacao strengths and this little parcel was a perfect way to sample a selection of their range. I also purchased a large block of 99% cacao which I am saving for some hearty winter meals – I’m thinking something rich, dark and beefy – possibly with Guinness as well as chocolate.
I’m a complete sucker for a gadget and whilst spending some blissfully happy times in various kitchen stores, this one caught my eye. It will convert recipe ingredients to any serving size desired and will also convert from pounds/ounces to grams. How handy is that!
Our hotel in San Francisco was, serendipitously, just across the road from a HUGE Williams Sonoma store. I spent a significant amount of time in there, although after the first visit the charm seemed to dissipate for my daughters and I was left to my own devices. I fell completely, utterly and hopelessly in love with these gorgeous cups, plates and bowls from Williams Sonoma and simply had to have them.
And then I saw these! Well, I dare you to say you could have resisted. Thank heavens for Williams Sonoma and their online store.
Silpat produce a range of French-made, fibreglass-reinforced, silicon baking mats to which absolutely nothing will stick. They are much desired by anyone who loves baking, but hideously expensive in stores here – that is, if you can find them. I found a complete range of sizes and, while not cheap, they were certainly less expensive than here in Australia and rolled up very neatly into one tube, tucked tidily in the back of my suitcase.
This big bowl of busyness is the very active sourdough starter that was given to me by my dear friend Isabelle. She dried a little of this starter, which she has had for some years, for me which I bought home and kicked back into life. Later in the week, these splendid sourdough loaves were the result.