Saturday, 12 November 2022

In My Kitchen, November 2022

 I am looking forward to Christmas so much this year, it will be a Summer's Christmas at the beach for us, sun and surf, can't wait.  With the promise of catching up with family and friends as a bonus. Next week, it's time to start soaking the fruit for the traditional Christmas cake and Plum Pudding, always my Mother's recipes, I don't deviate from those, I think that Christmas time is a wonderful time for some traditional cooking. These are the recipes I'll be using If you are interested. 

Christmas Cake This mixture can also be baked as smaller cakes, and I have a post up for those as well.

Plum Pudding

I made a delicious Salade Nicoise, where using les mains to mix all of the ingredients is the secret according to the chef on French Food Safari. I'll be posting this recipe soon hopefully. I'm travelling to France next year, so I'm immersing myself in French food and culture when I can.

This is before all of the ingredients were mixed together with les mains

What I've been baking:

Continuing with the French theme, I made a Cherry Clafoutis, which is un flan delicieux.

Recently when a neighbour popped over for a cup of coffee I made this Middle Eastern style Date and Walnut Loaf with a hint of chocolate.

The recipe for Nigella Lawson's Honey and Chocolate cake can be found at this link. It was delicious. I was inspired by the honey from our backyard beehive to make this cake.

This is the latest honey harvest from our hive. We've had a few problems with our hive during swarm season in October which hopefully is back on track now. That story and the recipe for the Honey and Chocolate cake are on the same post. I'm sure that stories about our hive and the bees will continue in future posts I write.

I've had Silvia Colloca's recipe book, Love Laugh Bake on my bookshelf for a while, and a Mahjong friend made one of her chocolate cakes for us all the other day, which isn't in this book, but was amazing. So I've been pouring through her book, and made the Hazlenut Brownie slice, but with Almond Meal, instead of  Hazlenut meal, and of course we had to have a wee taste, and it's delicious. It's destined for dinner with friends tonight. It is also one of those recipes that can turn into a cake as well. Recipe to follow shortly I hope. Silvia is such a talented lady, and an opera singer as well.

The weather was unseasonably cold and rainy so I made these delicious and economical individual Cottage pies, 13 of them actually. You can find the recipe here.

We've been spending a lot of time in our garden, and some capsicum seeds I planted in August have grown into quite mature plants, with small capsicums starting to grow on some of the bushes. Capsicums are always expensive to buy, so I'm looking forward to being able to use them in the kitchen in all kinds of ways. I think there might be a variety of shapes and sizes with these, but they are all from caps I bought at the markets, and they aren't like the large capsicum varieties sold in supermarkets. They are smaller and sweeter. I dried the seeds and waited until Winter to plant them in a new garden that Mr. HRK dug for us. They benefit from the morning sun so I have high hopes for them, and hoping the bugs and beetles don't take a liking to them.  We have 23 plants, after pulling out a few to make room for all of them. I think all of the seeds I planted must have germinated, I always plant more seeds than we need just in case. That should be enough plants don't you think, tee hee?

It's a long garden, with some flowering Cuphea plants up one end for the Bees to enjoy.

During October, we participated in the Aussie Backyard BIRD COUNT, which was a lot of fun. Between 4.30 and 5.30 pm each day we sat outside in our courtyard for 20 minutes at a time, sometimes with a glass of wine and identified the birds that frequented our bird bath, and recorded them on the Aussie Bird Count app. I can't find our total stats, as the app has been closed but we managed to record all of the species that visit our yard. 

We now have a female Spotted Dove which participated in our Bird Count, (I know that for sure!) nesting in our Golden Penda tree just outside our back kitchen door and she is sitting on two baby chicks. I can mention this because the nest is so close to the kitchen. The only problem is that we are in and out of the door quite often during the day and she gets spooked very easily, as she was when I took this photo. We are very careful now not to frighten her too much but she seems to be used to us coming and going. Other doves have nested in those trees, not always with great results, so fingers crossed for this little lady. She seems very protected there from the many predators.

This is my November submission to the #IMK series hosted by Sherry. Each month bloggers from around the world gather to share what is new in their kitchen.  I don't buy a lot of new stuff anymore, but I love cooking and baking. I hope you enjoy some of my recipes and stories.
Hoping the rest of November treats you well.

Warm wishes



  1. Salade Nicoise is my favourite as I love eggs and tuna. Cherry clafoutis is such a classic that everyone would love. Bee keeping is such a fascinating hobby I wish I could handle..

    1. Thanks Angie, beekeeping certainly has its challenges, but there is support out there from other beekeepers and it is so worthwhile. I love the tuna and egg combination as well.

  2. Pauline, I participate in the bird count this but I noticed that this year, being wet and foggy during the count, there weren’t as many birds around. Perhaps it was simply because I couldn’t see them through the fog 😂 Chel

    1. Chel it would be really tricky trying to see the birds during fog, it's hard enough to identify them all under normal conditions. Thanks for your comment:)

  3. lots of wonderful cooking and baking there pauline! Yes i did the aussie bird count too. always fun! tho it was grey and rainy the whole week so not many birds around - unlike the week before and after with many wonderful types. typical. Thanks for joining in this month. Six weeks till christmas. aarrgghh... so much to do.

    1. Thanks Sherry, slowly does it with Christmas I reckon. I can almost forget it's just around the corner if I stay away from the shops.

  4. Where in France are you going? I want to try and get back there in 2024 if possible. Next year we have Italy on our agenda. I also made a version of Salade Nicoise this past week as we had fresh tuna. We don't go down to the beach in December - too many holiday makers there for my liking ;)

    1. Tandy my son and family live in Montpellier, so I will be based there. It sounds like a lovely area.

  5. That garden looks fantastic! We moved this past year, and so we didn't plan a garden this year...but I've got plans to get one going for next year. That bird count is pretty cool! What a fun and relaxing way to wrap up each afternoon. Enjoy the Christmas prep - I love this time of the year!

  6. Thanks David, I love this time of year as well. Christmas preparations are progressing slowly which is the way I like it.

  7. Wonderful things in your kitchen, Pauline! I am so excited that you are going to France! WHere will you be? I do the same thing you do - make all sorts of recipes from where I will be going -- to prime the pump, as they say! Your Salade Niçoise looks wonderful - and I must check out your plum pudding. I have not been brave enough to make one...

  8. Thanks so much David. I will be based in Montpellier, really hoping to find a cooking class somewhere there. I am priming the pump:) This plum pudding is dead easy and absolutely delicious.


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