In My Kitchen – November 2020

“Where have you been?” You may well ask. The answer is complicated…in a cave, trying to enter a coma, in a complete media blackout zone, and in general a nervous wreck. I’ve found it almost impossible to write or even do much reading. Books on tape have become my refuge. I apologize if I have missed your blog posts or emails. I promise to recover in a week or so.

Things are not good in the U.S. No matter the outcome of the election (as I write it is currently undecided), things are not good. Whatever side you are on, things are not good. How can folks have such different views of both democracy and leadership; why are we so divided and how can there be so much anger? Even more important, what can we do?

In addition to the horrible political situation, we personally have been closing on a second home/condo/apartment in downtown Oakland. We have deep roots in Oakland, after over 30 years we have many close friends plus all our medical professionals are there. Our retiree medical insurance benefits depend on having a residence in Oakland. Fort Bragg is an example of the deep holes we have in rural health. We are lucky to have a small local hospital but any specialist is over a 2 hour drive away. We have been renting in Oakland since we sold our home two years ago but that was always intended to be temporary. I will attach a picture of the new kitchen at the end of this post. We don’t plan to move until next year as there is some work to be done.

So everything has converged to set up a period of maximum stress in my life and that’s not even mentioning Covid. But, we feel grateful to have our health and a roof over our heads with food on the table, there are many more folks who are less fortunate right now. 

How are you coping out there?

So, what is going on In My Kitchen?

Casey and Quinn

What are you making for dinner Mom? Casey and Quinn under the table.

After almost 10 months of stay at home orders and social distancing, I am running out of steam. It’s been many years since I cooked 3 meals a day for weeks/months on end. “What are we having for dinner?” has become a looming question every day. I am mostly bored with the menu.

With the cooling temperatures, I thankfully have a new repertoire of recipes. The Instant Pot has come out from its summer home in the garage, and I am dusting off my casseroles and braising pots.

I made ox-tail stew for the first time, yes for the very first time. After researching recipes I decided to use the electric pressure cooker. It was absolutely delicious, essentially a one pot meal with the potatoes and carrots. It only needed a green salad on the side. The meat melted off the bone and the sauce was amazing.

Instant Pot Ox-Tail Stew

Instant Pot Ox-Tail Stew with Red Wine

The potatoes came out of the garden. This was a classic stew with carrots, celery, garlic, and potatoes plus tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, herbs-de-Provence, and red wine. It was even better the next day. I will post the recipe.

We also ate a seasonally appropriate dinner of a butternut squash, hominy, and chicken stew. Another cool weather winner.

New in my kitchen is this electric smart rice cooker. I was convinced into buying it after having polenta cooked in a similar pot at a friend’s house. Put in all the ingredients, set the time and walk away???? Sold! I also find it very useful for cooking mixed rice or grain types, oatmeal or porridge. My old rice cooker did a wonderful job with white rice, not so good with other types.

Rice Cooker

Rice Cooker

Also new in my kitchen, or rather in our outside dining area, are these little but powerful lanterns. Now that it is getting darker earlier, candles are not bright enough plus they are frequently blown out by a puff of wind (not to mention fire danger). These little lanterns have two setting so we can see our food and each other in the dark when we have small socially distanced dinner parties.

November is the time for winter vegetables, cauliflower being one of my favorites. We usually have a rather plain roasted cauliflower dish, cauliflower gets the most wonderful sweetness when roasted and charred. This sauce with olives, bacon and crisped parmesan really perked things up and packed a flavor punch.

So that’s about all. I mourn the end of tomato season but cheer the beginning of braised and long cooked meals (or Instant Pot). What are you cooking this season?

As promised, here is a glimpse of the new kitchen.

New Oakland Kitchen

New Oakland Kitchen

We are thinking of refreshing the kitchen cabinets as they are well used (if you look closely) and a little battered. But there is little else to do. It has a wonderful view of the Oakland skyline.

This post of In My Kitchen is part of a monthly summary of kitchen adventures around the world. Come and visit us at Sherrys Pickings.

Be well, be safe, be kind…we are all in this (whatever it is) together.


26 thoughts on “In My Kitchen – November 2020

  1. Hang in there. I went on a news blackout from May until most recently (because of the election). Now, I’m back on it (because of the election). I can attest that the rice cooker is a must! I have one similar (but older). Use it often. LOVE the new kitchen. Things will get better, no?

    • They have to get better. And thank you for the calming words. I am still on a blackout until things are decided. I can’t believe the polls got it all wrong…again.

  2. Hey Liz! I sent you an invite to a brand new FB group, “Progressive Women of East TN,” that’s been how I’ve made it through the last 3-4 days! I think you might be intrigued to see this unexpected little flower of social media that was purely born out of the stress of…well, what can you say? All this. And I agree, your new kitchen looks fantastic! What a view!

      • huh! I think when I got mine it just popped up on my page on FB. I just tried to send you another because if the previous one was sent, it won’t let me, but it wouldn’t let me type anybody’s name in right now I don’t know if it might be overloaded . I know they have started (the moderators) sending some questions to invitees to I guess make sure they’re not trolls. And I don’t know how automated it is. I’ll look back at it tomorrow.

  3. what a wonderful view from your kitchen Liz. and your new kitchen looks marvellous. yes i think the whole world is in a tither at the moment re your elections. that orange man is like a petulant five year old. i can’t even bear to look at him. yum to roasted cauli; it is delicious. your stews look so delicious and hearty. we are heading into salad weather here of course. we have a couple of those outdoor lanterns too – very handy. take care and keep well
    and thanks for joining in

    • Thanks Sherry, and ditto to all your comments (except the salad weather). Thank you for continuing to host IMK.

  4. Hang in there! We all need a break from blogging now and then. The new kitchen looks great and the view from it looks spectacular. It will be good to have a base back ‘home’ but also a place to escape in the countryside. Am watching my birth state (PA) with an eagle eye at the moment, although my voting state (WI) seems secure. Unity seems to be the message of the Dems, so we can hope.

    • We need that unity right now. I have several close friends with family members in opposing political camps that are not talking. And the rhetoric, when spoken, is nasty.

  5. Your new kitchen looks lovely — very open and welcoming. It must be challenging to have two sets of appliances, pots, pans, dishes, and tools.

    You mentioned that your oxtail stew was better the second day. This seems to be true of all stews. I finally conceded the fact and now always cook stew a day before it’s on the menu.

    be well… mae at

    • Thanks Mae, when my mother passed away I inherited all her pots/pans/appliances and dinnerware. So I have had a lot in boxes until we purchased the Fort Bragg cottage 10 years ago. The rest came for second hand stores and Ikea. Certainly one place has more of the upscale stuff, but that kinda makes it fun…making due.

  6. Your puppies sure look happy that you are around more! Lots of good food and beautiful kitchen – that would make me feel real good. While watching my alma mater play football the station announced Biden was the next President. Let’s hope things get better for everyone.

    • That was certainly a good moment. I feel like I can finally breathe again. Yes, let us all hope that he can mend our broken country.

  7. Like you Liz, my disappointment and amazement is how divided America seems to be. But, enough on politics. It’s so easy to get in a rut and zone out these days when planning meals. It seems we are repeating the same dishes over and over. First because we can’t shop like we used to, but also because we seem to be drawn to certain comforting dishes.
    Fantastic apartment, I love the view and kitchen…

    • Thanks Ron, it’s the exact opposite of our other home…no garden; but restaurants, coffee houses, movie houses, wine merchants, and bars are within 2 blocks. There are two farmer’s markets a week and we can walk to the ferry to SF. The building does have a private dog park so the pups will be happy. And we can give them their last walk of the evening in our comfy clothes.

      Once Covid is over we will look forward to spending more time there.

  8. Hi Liz- I love the Oakland view from your kitchen! It’s wonderful. I get your anxiety and I appreciate your self care. I’ve been “doomscrolling” and your audiobooks are a better alternative.
    We got a lot of celeriac from the CSA- any inspiration for something lovely to make with that? Also a lot of daikon radishes. I’ve made some delicious beet and turnip pickles from the Jerusalem cookbook; maybe something like that with the daikon too.
    I hope you’re doing well; I enjoyed seeing the girls!!<3

    • Hi Jane, how kind of you to comment. Yes, the daikons would be good pickled or fermented. And I love mashed celeriac mixed with other vegetables. They are delicious with potatoes, adding a wonderful sweetness. Also carrots.

  9. I love the look of your kitchen, such sleek clean lines in a bright open space. It has been so awful this year with Covid and I’m really with you on that “What’s for dinner” fatigue that sets in sometimes. I live by myself, so it’s 2 minute noodles or weetbix for dinner if I can’t be bothered! Hang in there x

    • Thank you Nancy. I also lived by myself for many years, I think take out rotisserie chicken was my life saver.

  10. Liz, hugs to you for bearing up as best you could so far, and MORE hugs for the coming days. I’ve been on and off the grid, too — mostly off — because there isn’t much to write about being home fulltime unless I regale folks with my latest housecleaning projects or the same ol’/same ol’ meals. (Thankfully, my hubby isn’t a picky eater.) At least you’ve tried some new things! Your oxtail stew sounded wonderful with the red wine, balsamic, and herbs-de-Provence (looking forward to your recipe) and your cauliflower dish looks divine! Curious to know how polenta turned out in your rice maker… let me know. I still “stir, stir, stir” the old-fashioned way for lack of things to do. 🙂 I’m glad you have your pups for company — presumably your hubby, too! — and a gorgeous new kitchen to look forward to. Sending you lots of love and hugs, xo.

    • Absolutely I have my husband around (all the time now) but he isn’t too picky about food either. I do wish he cooked sometimes but he is happy to pick up takeout or have sandwiches for dinner. I used the porridge setting on the rice cooker and it was excellent, as easy as cooking rice although it took longer. It wasn’t quite as creamy as I like so next time I will add more liquid.

      And yes, this is certainly a tense time. Too tense.

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