In My Kitchen – May 2020

This post is part of a monthly catch up from kitchens around the world. The bloggers are passionate about food and cooking and there are always lots of new things to learn. You may find a new ingredient or technique or tool you can’t live without. The world seems a smaller place right now and it’s inspiring to read how others are coping. You will find the link to In My Kitchen at the end of this post.

We nearing the end of week 6 of stay-at-home orders in California. Both the world and my kitchen look very different. Without the usual busyness of life, I find I am more introspective and thoughtful. And more appreciative of small things.

We have, in this time of social distancing, permission to be comfortable. That word, comfortable, has special meaning right now. It’s actually two words, comfort and table. Both of them are especially important in this moment of time.

We have permission and maybe the requirement to take comfort, and much of that is taking place around the table. My current wardrobe consists of only those things that replace the hugs I am missing from friends and family, clothes are soft and cozy and oversized and baggy and worn. I wear them unselfconsciously since no one will see me. The silk shirts, pencil skirts and skinny jeans in the closet hold no attraction. Maybe the kitchen and table are partly to blame.

Comfort is homemade sourdough with a crackly crust, thickly smeared with rich unsalted European butter.

Sourdough

Sourdough

Comfort is macaroni and cheese, the rich smooth creamy center contrasting with crusty brown burned cheese edges. Comfort is tomato soup (Campbells please) and grilled cheese sandwiches, the extra sharp cheddar oozing out when it is cut in half.

Grilled Cheese

Grilled Cheese with Leftover Chicken and BBQ Sauce

We have permission to be deliciously unselfconscious about what gives us pleasure without worrying about what we will look like to others. Maybe this is something we should keep.

In my kitchen I have flowers, spring is here and I pick exuberant bouquets from the garden.

Spring Flowers

Spring Flowers

Rhododendrons

Rhododendrons and Azaleas

They make me smile.

In my kitchen I have three new cookbooks. The grocery stores are a little short on ingredients, but I am looking forward to preparing and posting some of the delicious new recipes once the supply chains are up and running again. Reading a cookbook feeds my imagination and allows me to be an armchair traveler. That’s about all the traveling any of us will be making in the near future. We had to abandon our planned trip to New Zealand in March.

Two of them, Neighborhood and Week Light, are written by Australians and are vegetable centric. Melissa Clark (Dinner in French) is a frequent contributor to the food section of the NY Times, I enjoy her articles and recipes.

In my kitchen I have the first CSA box from Nye Ranch, just down the road from us. I really appreciate the ability to support small, local agriculture. This is a new venture for them and makes up for the lost income from restaurant customers. The box contained lovely fresh and very local produce.

Nye Ranch CSA

Nye Ranch CSA – Week 1

In my kitchen I have resurrected my sourdough starter from the freezer.

 

My family thinks I am missing the microbiology lab too much. It has been a challenge to bake sourdough bread. Do not in any way think that the beauty of the loaf pictured above is indicative of my success. It was an anomaly. Bread flour is not to be had anywhere, so I am working with whole wheat and sprouted wheat flour and a small amount (I am conserving my 2 lb. bag) of all purpose flour. Most of my efforts are better used as croutons or hockey pucks. But I am still trying. Thankfully the starter is happy and bubbling away (I was a pretty good microbiologist). I have been searching the internet for tips when working with heavier flours. It seems everyone is baking, flour is as scarce at toilet paper. If any of you have some suggestions, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

The “In My Kitchen” is hosted monthly by Sherry, from Sherrys Pickings. Please do come on over, it’s lovely reading with a cup of tea or coffee and may inspire you.

(Note: I do not receive any renumeration from Amazon or any other supplier/source I may mention in a post. Any link is for your interest and information only.)

22 thoughts on “In My Kitchen – May 2020

  1. Bread and soup and cheese — I think they are in every kitchen right now, helping us sustain our connection to a former life. Flowers, too, now that spring is coming even to the northern parts of the country. You have expressed so many people’s feelings in this lovely post.

    be well… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  2. Flowers are guaranteed to bring a smile to my face! You must have a lovely garden. And the smell of my sourdough bread baking, a chicken roasting, or today’s ham baking. Comforting in troublesome times for sure.

    • Absolutely, those are some of my favorite things. Stay safe and thank you for visiting.

  3. Hi Liz
    Well why wouldn’t your starter be happy! It’s sitting by a nice, warm crackly fire and i am jealous as it is pouring rain here. Stay safe! Cristina

    • We need some of that rain here, looks like another drought year for us as we’ve had very little winter rain. I worry about fires come late summer and fall. Stay well and safe as well.

  4. It’s all about comfort food right now and your sourdough cheese sandwich looks so very tasty. The vase of flowers are beautiful. Love getting new cookbooks, enjoy cooking new recipes. Love baking sourdough bread and usually make them with white flour and a small amount of brown which makes them less dense. Your sourdough starter looks very cosy and lively too 🙂

    • Thank you. I was able to buy a large bag of white all purpose flour at the store yesterday (the last one) so I will try again. My starter is happy and I have finally found a warm place in the house for rising, fingers crossed.

  5. I so hear you. I am digging out the spring clothes and wondering if I will even need to iron my linen. It’s yoga pants and tees for now. I’m picking bouquest for our table, too, and have created a new sourdough starter as well. Flour is in short supply everywhere. I’m sure that if I were to venture to the store daily, I could start a stockpile. I’m not doing that and when I do make a trip, there’s always little to none. Stay safe and be well!

    • I am going to have to lose a few pounds before I go back to my skinny jeans. I did score the last bag of all purpose flour on Saturday, but also a couple of loaves. I am going to try again.

  6. not only have i been living in the same pair of shorts (washed regularly of course) and a few tee shirts over the crisis period, but i have been hacking into my own hair every few days when i pass thru the bathroom and see how long it’s getting:-) and of course cooking and eating. it’s been rather relaxing really, after the shock of social isolation wore off. i think I’m going to miss the peace and quiet. thanks for joining in this month. cheers
    sherry

    • I am getting used to it as well. I don’t think things will be exactly the same when this is over though. Maybe we will have more peace and quiet in general.

  7. Wow your starter is doing so well! What’s his name? I adore the photo of him by the fire. I also got the Community salad book this month, it looks fantastic can’t wait to give it a whirl

    • His name is Devon. The original came from Celia in Australia. She sent me a dried package several years ago. I had some experiments with sourdough baking but then life got very busy. So I dried a batch and popped it in my freezer. Very resilient stuff is that starter.

  8. I have been baking with all sorts of flours – the heavier flours make for flatter loaves, unless you use a loaf tin. Have fun and enjoy all you make. I agree with you, macaroni and cheese is comfort food. Hope you get to take your trip to New Zealand sometime soon.

    • They have moved us to a trip on Jan 28, 2021 but who knows what will happen at that time. Thanks for visiting and stay safe.

  9. Hey Liz! Hellos from Texas. I had been noticing your posted recipes. I’m sure your cooking is as fabulous as your Mother’s. I wish I could sample them in person. You are my first blog.

    • Thank you so much! I am happy you are enjoying the blog. It’s been lots of fun, especially since we have stay-at-home orders. It allows me to keep in touch with lots of folks. So, which of my beautiful cousins is this? I am not familiar with the email address. I miss my mom a lot and often wish I could run things by her. She certainly is my inspiration. Hugs, stay safe.

      • It’s Ruth in Texas. The boy-I-Oy-I-Oy cousin. Miss those days. I never forget our trip to CA.

      • I miss you as well! Happy Mother’s Day. How are you? We should talk…those were good days.

      • Do you remember my mother making a pressure cooker meal over the campfire??? I was terrified the whole thing would blow up on us.

  10. As soon as I saw your lovely springl flowers, I said that is what I need! I live in a high rise condo on the beach in Florida half the year- no garden here- However, I will be traveling home to Pennsylvania by car at the end of the month, and will look forward to having a flower garden again!! There might even be some annuals that are waiting for me!! Beautiful post, thanks.!

    • Thank you so much. I bet your annuals will have self seeded themselves, and bulbs will be up as well. You could plant some things specifically to get yourself spring color when you return each year. It would be a welcome home greeting. I bet you will miss the view of the ocean, but not that Florida summer heat. Safe journeys, and stay well.

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