Wednesday, April 13, 2022

In My Kitchen, April 2022

There's a buzz in the air, not only from our happy Italian bees, but also as the weather cools down here, school is on holidays, and the Easter holidays are reuniting families around the globe. It's one of my favourite times of the year. We rarely travel away at Easter on the roads, and it is wonderful to be able to look forward to family arriving tomorrow. The refrigerator is full of food, ready to assemble, and we are aiming for a relaxed time together. 

I am joining Sherry at Sherry's Kitchen for her monthly and global In My Kitchen, and the sharing of this post to IMK. Today is the deadline to submit this post, so let's start writing. However, our thoughts and prayers are with those in the Ukraine as the madness continues over there, and hoping that over Easter we will see some resolution to this madness. And then there's the politics and impending election in our country, let's not go there.

On a sweeter and happier note, I made a batch of Ginger Nuts, these biscuits were crisp and spicy, just how we like them. I love to bake biscuits, and cakes too of course, with some of my favourite music playing in the background, these were out of the oven in no time at all.

A birthday celebration was a wonderful excuse to make this Avocado, Lime and Coconut Cheesecake. Locally produced Shepard Avocados are in season here in North Queensland, and I am using them whenever I can. They will start disappearing from our stores around the end of April, to be replaced by the Haas avocados, which often come over the ditch from New Zealand and are more perishable. My regular readers saw this cheesecake post and made some lovely comments, however if you missed the recipe and back story you can find it here at this link.

A Mandarin, Pineapple and Tarragon Shrub. it's a juicy story

One of our favourite times, at the end of the day is to sit outside in the courtyard enjoying a long cool drink. The idea for this refreshing drink started when we had an abundance of mandarins from our tree in our front yard. Some of you may remember a large branch broke off this tree recently during a storm. A couple of weeks later it was obvious the remaining fruit needed to be picked, as they were very juicy  even though the skin was still green. 

We had been to the local Farmers Markets and bought some Rough Leaf pineapples which were very sweet and juicy as well. Combining mandarin and pineapple juices into a fruit shrub seemed an obvious pairing to us, but then how about adding herbs for extra flavour. Tarragon is growing and flowering beautifully in our garden at present, so if the mandarins are ready for juicing and the tarragon is also in season and plentiful, let's combine them as well. As a result I brewed up a delicious Mandarin, Pineapple and Tarragon fruit Shrub. Perfect to drink as a refreshing afternoon cocktail.

A Shrub for drinking that is, is a way of preserving excess fruit and their juices using Apple Cider Vinegar as the preservative, and sugar.These are also called Drinking Vinegars, where the Acetic Acid in the vinegar acts as the preservative. The best Apple Cider Vinegar to use is Organic, Raw, and Unpasteurised available from most Supermarkets and Health Food shops these days. Apple Cider Vinegar is a Fermented food, and there is a lot of evidence to support that it is very good for us.

 A little history lesson? Various historical accounts tell us that early Sailors from colonial America and England carried drinkable shrub on board their vessels to prevent scurvy. Consequently, the "shrub" was one of America's first drinks, as it was shelf stable without requiring chilling, water was mostly unsafe and the drink was healthy. It also probably gained popularity during the Temperance Movement in the U.S. The invention of refrigeration meant it no longer needed to be used as a preservative without refrigeration. Shrubs are now very popular to use in Cocktail Bars as mixers. It also makes a zingy refreshing drink, with just a tablespoon or two  mixed with cold Soda Water on ice, or sparkling Mineral water or just plain cold water on a warm day and the syrup will keep in the refrigerator tightly sealed for about 6 months. You can be as elegant or as simple as you wish when concocting a shrub, and there are plenty of recipes available.

Making shrub is a little like making jams, use equal amounts of sugar to blended fruits, and then add the same amount again of the Vinegar of your choice. This recipe is for a large quantity of fruit, however it is an easy calculation to work out the ingredients for a smaller amount of fruit. This is how I made shrub.


6 cups blended mandarin fruit

2 cups blended pineapple

10 sprigs Tarragon 

8 cups Apple Cider Vinegar

8 cups White granulated sugar


For this quantity, select a large pot.

Peel your mandarin and remove the white pith

Chop each piece of fruit into 8ths, remove seeds, and gradually add fruit to the blender, until you almost have a liquid. Add fruit to the pot you are using.

Follow the same method for the pineapple. However chop the pineapple into pieces, blend, and add to the saucepan.

To each cup of fruit liquid, add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of good quality Apple Cider Vinegar. Mix the fruit, vinegar and sugar together.

Add the Tarragon. NO need to chop up the tarragon.

Place the saucepan on the stove, and bring the fruity mixture to the boil

After it has boiled, strain mixture through a fine mesh colander into a large jug or bowl. You will then need to pour or ladle  your shrub from the jug into other sterilised bottles.

To remove the last of the juice from the remaining fruit pulp, bash it with a wooden spoon to extract the juice. Strain this liquid into a sterilised container.

The fruit pulp left over is also delicious, but very sweet. You could enjoy it spooned over ice cream or through yoghurt at home.

Sourdough Baking

I've started sourdough baking again over the last few weeks and I'm loving it. I had a break from it for a while during the heat, however when my sourdough Mother is in the refrigerator, she needs to be fed at least weekly and thankfully she has stayed healthy and well as any good sourdough Mother should. I have three jars now, just in case. I'm going to try and dry some so if any Aussies would like some of my Mother let me know. We love to share.

Fruit and Nut Sourdough Toast 

This was absolutely delicious, and made great toast.

The recipe and story for this fruit loaf can be found here at this link:

Phew, I'm realising it has been a busy month. Mr HRK had more sinus surgery, and now he's very excited to have his sense of taste and smell back. It's just so great to see him enjoying the taste of my cooking, and to be able to smell the bread that's cooking, and the dishes on the stove. We take so much for granted when we can taste and smell wonderful food.

Did I mention bread? I'll post my favourite Sourdough bread recipe shortly, but on a day to day basis I like to bake a sandwich loaf  and let it rise overnight, so we have a cooked loaf  ready by lunchtime at the latest, sometimes brunch. I don't own a bread maker, I'm it, so each loaf can be different, but always delicious.

Risen, and ready for the oven

A bread loaf, decked out in her shower cap, ready for an overnight rise.

Another loaf using different flours, which looks quite different. Both were delicious though.

When time is short, this is one of my very favourite mid-week and healthy meals.
Bulgur wheat Risotto and with Chicken and Artichokes, is so very tasty and healthy, and low calorie and versatile. This time I added some left over broccoli, and some char grilled capsicum. If you prefer vegetarian, substitute some haloumi cheese for the chicken. You can find the recipe here. I love using bulgur wheat in my cooking. I also used half and half chicken stock and verjuice. Very tasty.

I haven't been out and bought any new stuff for my kitchen, it seems to have been too busy,  but are you like me and generally find nice things to buy when on holiday?

Last but not least this eggplant dish was delicious. Eggplants are finished in my garden with Winter just around the corner.

 Eggplant with Anchovies and crunchy breadcrumbs. You can find the recipe here at this link:

My beautiful Cattleya orchid, Rsc. Village Chief Armani "Red Dragon" is in flower for Easter. Such a beautiful surprise, I will enjoy her fragrance and colour this Easter.

Happy Easter everyone, from team Happy Retirees Kitchen, have a wonderful time over the holidays with family and friends. Safe travels if that's what you are doing. I'll be back after the holidays.



  1. Such a yummy and festive month! I am still thinking about that cheesecake :-) Those cookies look divine too.

    1. Thanks Angie, I'm so pleased I froze some of the cheesecake so we could enjoy it over a couple of weeks. Ginger biscuits are always delicious.

  2. Such wonderful stuff in your kitchen! Gotta go with the shrub as my favorite, though -- shrubs have such terrific flavor.

    1. Thanks KR, yes we love a shrub drink in summer, so refreshing and good for us as well.

  3. love that pretty in pink orchid. and i really like the idea of a fruity shrub drink. Hope hubby is feeling much better now. this month is flying by as usual. retirement is such a busy time of it :-) thanks for joining in. cheers and happy easter sherry x

  4. Your risotto had my mouth watering, the fruit sourdough bread with melting butter as well. I didn't realize that shrubs have a history, thank you, it was interesting. I will need to make some once we have some summer fruit.

    1. Shrub is such an interesting drink, and keeps for ages refrigerated, it certainly extends the life of fruit. Thanks Liz.

  5. There's that avocado cheesecake again! It's calling to me!

    1. Jeff, I hope to see that cheesecake on your blog one day, I know you will do something special with it:) Take care and thanks for the comment.

  6. it looks like a wonderful month in your kitchen, Pauline! Happy Easter, although I know I’m a day late for you. We are having a peaceful Easter Sunday here.

    1. Thanks so much David, it seems ages since Easter now, it was nice and peaceful for us as well.

  7. Ah, I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend with the family! I really enjoyed this post for a number of of them being the Shepard Avocado. I'm not familiar with this variety. We mostly see Haas here in the States, but maybe I need to hunt a little harder!

  8. David, from my understanding the Shepard avocado isn't a variety that grows outside Queensland and Northern NSW, but hey the way the world is now, perhaps it does. The Hass is delicious to eat though. Thanks so much for your comment.

  9. So glad the surgery went well! And now I am craving Ginger Nuts. I have not had them in years. I fed my starter over Easter. One really good feed and she is back in the fridge until I feel like making sourdough again.

    1. Tandy, my sourdough mother needs feeding again, she's a hungry Madam, Ha, Ha. I need to make more ginger nuts too.

  10. Quante cose buonissime, complimenti!!!!


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