In My Kitchen – July 2022

In My Kitchen – July 2022

It’s been several months since my last IMK post. In My Kitchen is part of a collection of posts from bloggers around the world, hosted by Sherry of Sherrys pickings. The posts detail what’s new in kitchens over the past month (or several months as the case may be). Click on the link to read them or join us. What’s new in your kitchen?

In My Kitchen, or rather on the back deck, is a new smoker/BBQ. It was a very generous gift from a house guest and we have just started using it. Last night we had the juiciest and most delicious pork chops I have had in my entire life. First smoked and then quickly seared. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures because we gobbled up every last scrap and chewed on the bones as well. I apologize to any vegetarians reading this post.

Traeger Grill

Traeger Grill

In my kitchen I have some new whole wheat grains from Community Grains.

They are a California company dedicated to restoring the full meaning of “whole grain” to commercially available products.

From a study on their website:

“This study investigates whether current systems of whole wheat production and labeling meet consumer expectations for “whole wheat”:  a reasonable belief that 100% or certainly most of the kernel (“whole”) is contained in the output of any whole wheat mill and therefore any product made from it.  Dr. David Killilea developed a procedure for accurately determining levels of whole wheat in products labeled “whole grain” or “whole wheat,” taking measurements of a biomarker protein (wheat germ agglutinin—WGA) present in the germ of the wheat kernel.”

The results were fairly shocking in that many products labeled whole wheat are actually not.

In my kitchen I have some imported pumpkin torchio pasta which was delicious with a sauce of roasted butternut squash and fried sage leaves.

In my kitchen I have flowers, early summer is when Northern California gardens are in their prime. I love having freshly cut flowers in the house.

Flowers from the garden

Flowers from the garden

In my kitchen I have a new cookbook by Ali Slagle, I Dream of Dinner. She is a contributor to the NY Times food section.

I haven’t had a chance to cook from it yet although I am enjoying reading it. Have any of you tried anything?

The summer brings fairly simple meals around here, grilled chicken and sliced seasonal tomatoes being a favorite.

Chicken thighs on the Traeger grill

Leftovers make great tacos.

Lime Garlic Chicken Tacos

Lime Garlic Chicken Tacos

The garden has also been able to provide us with fresh zucchini and greens.

Zucchini from the garden

Zucchini from the garden

Because of the current uptick in Covid cases, I have been limiting how often I go to the grocery store for supplies. So occasionally the larder is somewhat bare. But I have found even a simple meal of roast asparagus and french toast eggs can be delicious. This meal reminded me of ‘toads in a hole’ as the eggs were baked in a hole in the bread.

A chilled glass of wine can make any meal memorable, even a simple one.

 

In my kitchen I always have dogs underfoot. My friend’s dog Heather was visiting and hanging out.

Casey, Quinn, Heather and Shanna

Casey, Quinn, Heather and Shanna

And here is Casey looking somewhat like a stuffed dog in her ‘thunder shirt’ which is supposed to calm her from anxiety.

Casey

Casey

Sadly she has been having a doggie version of night terrors. We are hoping that medication will calm her, so far it is having only limited effectiveness.

And that’s my update. I’d love to hear from you if you leave a comment.

 

 

In My Garden – June 2022

In My Garden – June 2022

I honestly don’t know where to start. Everything is in bloom! June is gorgeous here in N CA. Although the rhododendrons are mostly finished (there are still a few blooms popping up here and there), everything else is in full flowering mode.

Just look at the variety in the bouquet above.

The sweet peas add their fragrance to any room where I place them. I especially like them in the bedroom where their scent fills the air when I enter the room.

Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas

The vegetable garden is in full swing as well. I decided to pass on planting tomatoes, cucumbers and beans this year. There simply isn’t enough sun for heat or them to do well and their performance has been disappointing.

But zucchini, which we love for grilling, is having a bountiful harvest. I planted several varieties and colors.

zucchini

zucchini

There are lots of other vegetables, greens do especially well because of our cooler weather.

New this year is our Traeger smoker, a generous gift from a house guest. Please let me know if you have any favorite recipes. It’s all new to us and we are still experimenting.

Traeger Grill

Traeger Grill

Also new is the metal whale on the railing behind it (but I think my husband installed it upside down).

Nasturtiums are almost overwhelming the dwarf lemon tree in this half barrel.

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums

There are lots of flowers everywhere.

Happy gardening and have a wonderful 4th of July.

June – Garlic Lime Chicken Tacos

June – Garlic Lime Chicken Tacos

Looking for the perfect way to use up any leftover chicken from your 4th of July BBQ? This one will also get you out of a hot kitchen and put dinner on the table quickly. No leftovers? A rotisserie chicken from the store works well. You could also saute or grill a few boneless chicken breasts or thighs and give them the same treatment. Any way you choose, this is quick and easy.

Lime Garlic Chicken Tacos

Lime Garlic Chicken Tacos

The recipe is simple but toasting the tortillas directly over the gas burner on your range, or on the grill, or even on a grill pan, makes a huge difference. That toasty and roasted flavor adds something special, as does the cilantro and lime crema.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 limes
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely minced jalapeno
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 2 avocados, peeled and pits removed, diced or sliced (sprinkle with a little lime or lemon juice to keep them from turning brown)
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quartered (or some jarred tomato salsa)
  • 6 cups of leftover chicken
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of neutral oil
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 6 oz of cheese (Cotija, feta, cheddar, Monterey jack, or other) shredded or crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Cilantro and lime crema

See the previous post for the cilantro and lime crema.

Cilantro Lime Crema

Cilantro Lime Crema

If you don’t have any leftover chicken on hand either – saute 2 large cubed boneless chicken breasts or 5 cubed boneless thighs in the oil until cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat and proceed with the recipe.

Or, brush with oil and place the whole breasts or thighs directly on the BBQ. When cooked, remove from the heat, slice and proceed with the recipe.

Method:

  1. Prepare the lime and cilantro crema.
  2. Juice the lemon and limes, place in a small bowl with the minced garlic and jalapeno. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Place a skillet over medium heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot add the leftover chicken, cook until heated through.
  4. While the chicken cooks, toast the tortillas over a cooktop burner, grill top or grill pan. Use tongs to turn so you toast both sides.
  5. When the chicken is heated, toss with the lime/lemon juice mixture, salt and pepper.
  6. Stuff the tortillas with chicken, avocado, tomato, and cheese. Garnish with the crema and cilantro.

I bet the folks over at Fiesta Friday would find this useful. It’s Fiesta Friday #438, a virtual (can you believe how many things are still virtual!?) blogging party that predates Covid. Angie hosts the party and I am this weeks cohost.

Click on the Fiesta Friday link to find ideas for celebrating the 4th, decorating your home, or keeping the kids busy with crafts now that school is out.

 

June – Cilantro and Lime Crema

June – Cilantro and Lime Crema

Cilantro Lime Crema

Cilantro Lime Crema

 

Use this easy and quick lime crema to add flavor to tacos, tostadas, nachos or drizzle it over a bowl of tortilla or black bean soup. During the warmer months I keep a small jar of it on hand to add a cooling (although you could make it ‘hot’) jolt of flavor. Dairy products will soften the heat of spicy foods.

I only used a tablespoon of finely minced jalapeno but feel free to add more if heat is your thing.

Ingredients:

  • juice and zest of 2 limes
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1/4 cup of finely minced cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon of finely minced jalapeno (or more to taste)
  • pinch of kosher salt

Method:

  1. In a small bowl whisk together all the ingredients, saving a few zests of the lime and cilantro leaves to garnish.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use.

That’s all there is to it. It will keep a few days in the fridge, thickening slightly.

I bet the folks over at Fiesta Friday would find this useful. It’s Fiesta Friday #438, a virtual (can you believe how many things are still virtual!?) blogging party that predates Covid. Angie hosts the party. Click on the link to find ideas for celebrating the 4th, decorating your home, or keeping the kids busy with crafts now that school is out.

 

In My Garden – May 2022

In My Garden – May 2022

May and June are the months when Northern California gardens are at their most beautiful. Because it was a cooler than usual winter, the rhododendrons were a little late to bloom. The Rhododendron festival held by the local Noyo Chapter at the Mendocino Botanical Gardens was held the second weekend of this month and I was blown away by the variety and beauty of of the flowers. We have the perfect weather for them here on the coast.

For the first time I submitted one of mine and won an honorable mention in the ‘pink’ category, much to my surprise.

Mrs. E. C. Sterling

Mrs. E. C. Sterling – Honorable Mention

Here’s a close up.

Mrs. E. C. Sterling

Mrs. E. C. Sterling

There are several huge rhodys (to use the familiar) on the property, probably over 50 years old.

I am surprised they are doing so well as I didn’t do much watering last summer, but they are spectacular.

They had lots of Rhododendrons for sale at the show and I couldn’t resist.

New Rhododendrons

New Rhododendrons

They do so well with our acid soil and in our climate. As a plus they are not bothered by redwood roots.

Take a look at this one…

I couldn’t resist, it’s spectacular. Our garden is expanding!

And they make gorgeous, long lasting arrangements for the house.

What’s going on in the rest of the garden. Well, the roses are blooming and the sweet peas are starting.

Just Zoey

Just Zoey

Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas

Those who are regular readers know that I plant them in honor of my English grandmother who had them growing up the side of a fence in her garden. I love the scent and they make lovely arrangements.

Sweet peas

Sweet peas, this image was from several years ago

In the perennial garden the geums, columbines, foxgloves and salvias are blooming.

When I first planned this garden I wanted cool colors; blues, purples and some orange. Well, the best laid plans… It’s a bit of a mix up now with me concentrating on what will grow and flourish. The red salvias have definitely found a home, not a color I originally wanted, but the hummingbirds love them.

The vegetable garden is producing lots of lettuce. The cabbage, broccoli, kale, and cauliflower are coming along. And I see the first of the zucchini, still too small to cook but I look forward to popping them on the grill.

cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower

cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower

lettuce

lettuce

lettuce

lettuce

zucchini

zucchini

We’ve added two new outdoor carpets on the decks, and 4 new chairs on the front porch.

Off the kitchen

Off the kitchen

Front deck

Front deck

Our deck will need to be replaced sometime in the next couple of years. Sigh!

Here’s a quick look at the pollinator meadow. The two birdhouses were adopted much to our joy. Chickadees in the back one and a pair of tree swallows in the nearer one. The other birdhouses have not been rented and we will move them before next year.

Pollinator meadow

Pollinator meadow

The sweet William and lupins are blooming.

lavender and poppies

lavender and poppies

Along the front drive the Spanish lavender is in full flower, the native bumblebees are happy. I planted some new dahlias between the plants and they are about 2 inches high. They should be in bloom in late summer when the lavender is finished.

That’s all, much of my time in the garden right now is my least favorite activity…weeding. Thank goodness for Audible.

Happy gardening everyone. I love your comments, let me how your garden is doing.