February 2017 – In My Kitchen

I cannot imagine a more perfect place to make an announcement. I am officially retired, starting today February 1st! This is the very first day and here I am, posting after several months away. I am so excited! It has been a crazy 5 months at work, I was thrown directly into the fray when we returned from our Ireland hiking trip in September. It has absolutely consumed me. But, I don’t even want to think about work right now. Right now I want to talk about what is new in my kitchen and read what is new in your own.

If you’d like to write an In My Kitchen post, send your link to Liz of Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things by the 10th of the month. And please stop by Liz’s blog to see and read the list of posts from kitchens around the world.

So, let’s get started!

To begin with, I have discovered sous vide. What is that? It is cooking under very carefully controlled temperatures in a water bath. Your food is encased in a food safe plastic bag and immersed in the warm water. You set the temperature of the water to the exact doneness you want the food, it cannot overcook. Sous vide translates as “under vacuum”.

Lamb chops, vacuum packed and ready for sous vide

Lamb chops, vacuum packed and ready for sous vide

You can then quickly sear the outside of your food in a very hot pan to brown and crisp it before serving.

Sous Vide

Sous Vide

I have wanted one for several years but they were terribly expensive, plus they were huge bulky appliances which took up too much space. This one is quite portable, clips on the side of any pot, and is easily stored. Even better the price has finally come down into the $200 range. I found them on sale before Christmas at $149, very reasonable. This small one is made by Joule, a company known for very high quality laboratory water baths. I have been experimenting with recipes, it is such a different approach. Don’t you think it is great fun to try a new technique? So far I have made a confit of chicken and duck with very little fat (and in only a few hours), chicken breasts which were marvelous (tender without a hint of dryness), lamb chops to die for, salmon steaks (no worry about overcooking), perfect carrots, and a few others. I will be posting recipes, so stay tuned. In the spirit of honesty I will admit to one failure, and the timing was unfortunate. I had volunteered to bring steaks to a holiday dinner party, the plan was to quickly finish them on the grill. They were not good at all although everyone was very polite. I know I shouldn’t try a new recipe when cooking for company, but I am entirely guilty of frequently disobeying the rule. I get so excited about a new recipe or method and want to immediately share it. Most of the time it turns out fine, not so much this time.

I think it was a problem with the steaks themselves. Expensive grass fed steaks do not always translate to delicious meat.

A second go was much more successful.

Joule Sous Vide

Joule Sous Vide

At our cabin in Fort Bragg, there is a new mini oven. Our old one gave up the ghost just before Christmas. It is very handy to have a second oven when entertaining. And, I find it is much more versatile than filling up the kitchen counter with a toaster and other appliances. It makes great toast.

New Breville Mini Oven

New Breville Mini Oven

In my kitchen I have tulips. It has been a wonderfully wet winter here and they are a sign of spring. I cannot grow tulips in the garden. They need more winter chill than we have, and the deer think they are a particular treat. These were a splurge when I saw them in the store. Aren’t they a lovely color?

Tulips

Tulips

In my kitchen, or rather on the kitchen table, we have plans and the beginning of lots of lists.

Plans for Fort Bragg Addition

Plans for Fort Bragg Addition

These are plans for a new bedroom and bath at our Fort Bragg house. The remodel was stage one, this is stage two with construction scheduled to start sometime in February. We will need a break in the rain before they can begin.

In my kitchen I have a new cookbook, this one by Diana Henry. I know she has been popular for some time and I cannot believe I just discovered her. This one was a James Beard award winner.

A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry

A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry

In my kitchen I have pu-erh tea. These little compacted teaspoons of fermented tea from China are individually wrapped. I love a dark tea but cannot drink English Breakfast without milk because it upsets my stomach. This tea is very dark and full flavored, but at the same time smooth and not tannic. One little cake will make an entire pot with refills.

Pu-erh tea

Pu-erh tea

Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh Tea

And lastly in my kitchen I have seed catalogs. The beginnings of a small spring garden now that I will have some time to nurture it.

Seed Catalogs

Seed Catalogs

What is new in your kitchen this past month?

38 thoughts on “February 2017 – In My Kitchen

  1. Welcome to retirement, Liz! Going into my 8th year of retirement, the novelty still has not worn off. I know you’re going to enjoy the freedom from full-time work life. – Adena

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You can’t underrate freedom. I love Diane Henry’s books. She’s been popular in the UK for quite some time. It is wonderful that she’s now made it to the US (and Australia). You now have time to really enjoy cooking from her books plus all that gardening, blogging and so many other things.

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  3. Oh Liz, that IS wonderful news and, as Adena said, welcome to retirement, darling. You won’t know yourself at this very special time of life. I retired in 2013 and it’s still filling my days with joy. Lots of lovely things in your kitchen, the tulips particularly. And I love Diana Henry’s books. Thanks for the very kind shout out xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. PS, give yourself time to settle in to it and, depending on how hard you pushed yourself in your working life, don’t be surprised if you crash and burn in the first six months. It’s not uncommon for illnesses to set in. Rest, relax and enjoy your days, do all those things you have wanted to do, but remember to exercise regularly too. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My Breville counter-top oven does everything well EXCEPT toast! It takes a long time and dries out the bread. I wonder how yours is different.

    Enjoy retirement — though adding onto a house is a job in itself!

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Moya. They have come down a great deal in price, there will probably be even more sales at various times this year. It has been fun to experiment, new postings coming soon. Restaurants have been using them for years, I’ve started to recognize the foods where they used it. Generally they were the ones where I wondered “how did they do this?”.

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  6. Congratulations! I pulled the plug from work in October and I have no idea how I fitted it in. Great to see the plans taking shape and I love that little red oven! I’m quite partial now to little ovens! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, I was so happy to discover her! Do you have a favorite? I have chilled them in the past, but am too lazy to dig them up when they have finished blooming. I put a half dozen bulbs in a half wine barrel with a butterfly bush and they come up every year, only to be eaten by the deer once the flowers start to emerge.

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  7. Congrats on your retirement, though it seems you still have lots to do! I just got a Diana Henry cookbook from the library and will start cooking from it soon for the Rainy Day Bites Cookbook Club. Your seed catalogs look familiar. We just finished going through all of our’s and I ordered 50 items from Territorial Seed. Hopefully I’ll have room to fit it all in and take care of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Congratulations on your retirement, Liz! Enjoy every moment of experimentation and trying new techniques. Trial and error can be fun — I’ve brought “guinea pig” (first time tried) dishes to many an event, too — mostly successful, but thank heavens for “polite folks.” 🙂 Loved your beautiful tulip bouquet and your mini oven, too — gorgeous colors.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. firstly huge congrats on being retired.! it is coming up to 4 years for me and i have loved it all. so much time to do the things you love. i love the look of that mini oven; i think i might get one for our small kitchen downstairs as it only has a microwave at the moment. such lovely exquisite tulips and the colour! people keep mentioning diana henry too – i had better check her out soon.. have fun in your new life.:)

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  10. Pingback: May – Sous Vide Chicken Breasts – spades, spatulas & spoons

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