Friday, 13 November 2020

In My kitchen, November 2020

Beautiful Jacaranda trees growing in our street

It's a lovely time of year with the Jacaranda trees in flower and my Dancing Lady orchids (oncidiums) producing beautiful golden sprays of colour this year. I feel as if I have lost a week though, as I started this post a week ago and then we received news that our brother-in-law was in intensive care in Rockhampton which is in Central Queensland, following surgery. Jim is blind and has been for over 20years, he is incredibly independent though. But his blindness adds extra complications to any health issues. Knowing that Jim's children and family in NSW wouldn't be able to visit him because of Covid restrictions and other family couldn't get there until Monday we drove down, after all Mackay is only 350 kms up the road from Rky. Rockhampton is my hometown, so it is always nice to go back,  perhaps under better circumstances though. We drove home yesterday after 6 days of visiting the hospital, and Jim seems to be doing quite well in rehab at the Mater Hospital now so I'm so pleased we could be there for him. The staff at the Rockhampton Base Hospital provided excellent care for him. 

Dancing Lady orchids

A highlight of the trip though was that Mr. HRK and I found a grove of Common mango trees where we took our dog Locky for a walk each day, still green but ready for picking, and perfect for making mango chutney. So my handyman husband repaired Jim's specially designed mango picker,  and on Wednesday we picked two bags of mangoes. We needed enough mangoes for 2 kilos of mango flesh. Jim also has a thriving Bowen Mango tree in his backyard, so we picked all of those for him and brought back just a dozen for ourselves. Common mangoes don't have the lovely pink blush around the stalk that the Bowen mangoes have, as they ripen then turn yellow.

A bowl of Green Common Mangoes ready for cooking.

It's interesting though that the mangoes in Mackay are still not ready for harvesting despite being further North, Rky has surprisingly had more rain than us. So today in my kitchen can you guess what I've been doing all morning, yes my friends, making mango chutney as some of the mangoes have started to ripen already with the warmer weather around. The mangoes need to be very green and hard for making chutney or the flesh will just break down too easily in the chutney. The result, 13 jars of spicy and sweet mango chutney which I am very pleased with. Mr. HRK peeled them while I sliced them up, and then I cooked up the mixture in a large pot, outside in our patio BBQ area on the gas burner, our outdoor kitchen. It took 45 minutes. So it's Mango Madness here in the North, or anywhere where there are mangoes growing, heralding the beginning of the Christmas preparations. Traditionally mango chutney is eaten with ham on Christmas. Day. However we eat it all year round. 
Click here for my Mango Chutney recipe on a previous post.

All the ingredients are in the pot, ready for cooking

My latest batch of mango chutney still to be labelled and stored.

Just before we left for Rockhampton, I made this delicious Chicken, Tomato and Basil traybake using up some fresh tomatoes given to me by my wonderful friend Irena. It was delicious.  I'll put up the recipe one day soon. 

My sweet Italian basil is growing beautifully this year, so I made some pesto from it. It was so delicious, the best pesto I have ever made, mainly because I think the basil was so fresh. The pesto is all gone, so I need to make some more. However here is the recipe I used from River Cottage Veg everyday, written by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. A great recipe book and never far from my kitchen.

Hey presto we have delicious basil pesto

Basil Pesto ingredients:

50 g pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted (I used pine nuts this time)
A large bunch of basil (about 30 g), leaves only
1 large bunch of parsley (about 30 g), leaves only
A few mint leaves (optional)
1 garlic clove, chopped
50 g Parmesan, hard goats cheese, or other well flavoured hard cheese, finely grated
 (I use parmesan)
 Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
100-150 ml extra virgin olive oil
A good squeeze of lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Serve:

Extra virgin olive oil, to trickle over the top (optional)


Put the toasted pine nuts into the food processor along with the herbs, garlic, grated cheese and lemon zest. Blitz to a paste, then, with the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil until you have a thick, sloppy puree. Scrape the pesto into a bowl and season with salt, pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juice. This will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. Sometimes I make a  pasta dish using this pesto with new potatoes, and green beans. Delicious!

Below is my Brassia Rex orchid in flower at this time of year. It's quite an un usual flower.

Nasturtiums from a friend make a lovely posy in a vase in the kitchen. This is the last of them now unfortunately that the Summer heat takes it's toll on some garden plants.

 I started sewing a couple of weeks ago, and made this book bag for Hugo our grandson, and sent it in a Christmas parcel over to the Falkland Islands with a book inside of course. I really enjoy sewing once I get started. This is an easy project and very useful. I'll be making some more for the children in the future.

I've written this post as part of the In My Kitchen series hosted by Sherrys Pickings. It is worthwhile dropping over to her posts if you haven't already

We are so fortunate here in Queensland that life continues pretty much as normal now, however we are aware that the the Covid pandemic situation overseas is still very concerning. You are all in our thoughts and prayers and one of the biggest global challenges now is to produce and distribute a  reliable vaccine that immunises populations across the world against this dreadful virus.

That's all folks, have a safe weekend. My next project today, soaking the fruit and nuts for this years Christmas cake.

Warm wishes,



  1. What a beautiful street tree! I don't see them here..Gorgeous orchid! Those mangoes are much better than those in the supermarkets. You too have a great weekend, Pauline.

    1. Thanks Angie,Interesting what you say about the mangoes, as we don't eat those mangoes as fruit because they tend to be a bit stringy but they do taste ok when they ripen. We call them Common mangoes, strictly for making chutneys etc.

  2. hi pauline
    yes i always make mango chutney at christmas too but i'm getting old and lazy and i usually use mostly frozen mango chunks! soooo much quicker and easier. yes the jacarandas were brilliant this year. just enough spring rain to set them off. i like to make pesto, but i just do it by eye:) i just keep throwing stuff in the blender till it looks right. have a great week

    1. I love the tradition of making mango chutney, and the Scottish in me couldn't buy frozen mango chunks,not yet anyway. I wouldn't have thought frozen mango would work that well, so I've learned something.Cheers, Pauline

    2. yep it works surprisingly well! Happily for my lazy old bones :-)

  3. Pauline, mangoes are still quite expensive here. I must make some more pesto and will try that recipe. Thanks.

    1. Thanks Chel, I think the markets is the only place to buy mangoes, I'll be checking ours out this weekend. Your mangoes are probably a bit later than ours.

  4. All of your orchids are lovely but I'm fascinated with the Brassia Rex orchid. It's always fun to warm up a bit by reading post from your region of the world. Our basil left us with our first frost, but it lives on in our freezer. I love pesto, but I've not thought of adding parley and mint. I must give that a try.

    1. Thanks Ron, yes the Brassia Rex is very different to the majority of Cattleyas and dendrobiums and attracts a lot of interest. I am also interested that you freeze your basil, I have never done that, so this morning I popped some in a freezer bag in the freezer to see how it fares, or do you do something else with it? Take care, Pauline

    2. Pauline, I put it in my food processor with olive oil and blitz it to a pesto consistency. Then put it in ice cube trays and freeze it. After it's frozen, I pop it out and toss in a freezer bag. I use it for making winter Caprese salad, in pasta, soups and for winter pesto.

    3. Great idea Ron. You know I vaguely remember doing that many moons ago. Will definitely do that now and then it is also easy to make pesto from it again as well.

  5. Yum, how I love tray bakes like these one! Looks so colorful and delicious! I wish mango trees would also be as common here, such tasty fruits,but I don't eat them very often. During Winter we buy them frozen, quite expensive, though. Stay safe everyone!

    1. Thanks Natalia, we are very spoiled here in North Queensland where mangoes are very seasonal in a couple of weeks. Lovely for Christmas.

  6. I love mangoes! And mango chutney is wonderful. Our basil is long since gone, but soon enough it'll be spring and I can plant some more. And make pesto. :-)

    1. Thanks KR, yes making and eating pesto is really something to look forward to.


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