In My Kitchen – January 2020

In My Kitchen – January 2020

Happy New Year everyone, wishing you all a peaceful and joyous year. We had a lovely Christmas, Casey and Quinn were especially pleased with their gifts.

Aussies with their new 'babies'

Casey and Quinn with their Christmas gifts

They do love their stuffed toys and carry them around in their mouths to greet us.

The flags on the front of our home spell out Happy New Year in international flag language. It’s the picture at the top of this post as well as this one.

Happy New Year with Casey and Quinn

The flags spell Happy New Year in international flag language

This January posting of In My Kitchen (also known as IMK) is part of a monthly gathering of posts from kitchens around the world. It’s fascinating to read what is new and notable from the Southern Hemisphere as well as the U.S. and Europe. Please do click on the link to Sherrys Pickings to read them all.

So what’s new in my kitchen? These nifty silicone egg cups are designed for using in the Instant Pot to make a copy of the Starbucks sous vide egg bites. I have made a version sous vide, which turned out ok. Butt there are a lot of recipes online and I am looking forward to trying them all. The egg cups came with a lid and a carrying tray to make it easy to remove them from the electric pressure cooker.

Silicone Egg Cups

Silicone Egg Cups

Silicone Egg Cups

Silicone Egg Cups

I will post the recipe if it turns out to be edible.

In my kitchen I have one last pear from the boxes my brother and sister-in-law sent for Christmas. They came from Harry and David in Oregon and are the best pears in the world, absolutely delicious.

Pear from Harry and David

Pear from Harry and David

It’s a tradition that we send each other pears before the holiday. This year I put one in the fridge and it delayed the ripening enough that we enjoyed each and every one. They are delicious with some cheese and walnuts for dessert.

In my kitchen I have some black rice.

Italian Black Rice

Italian Black Rice

Have any of you tried it? Do you have any recipes? The rice came from a small Italian deli and shop that just opened in town. The rice looks a bit like wild rice and they told me it cooks up nutty and a little firmer than regular rice. I’ll let you know how it turns out. They have lots of very interesting imported items. I also bought a jar of sun dried cherry tomatoes in olive oil and some lovely anchovies.

Sun Dried Tomatoes and Anchovies

Sun Dried Tomatoes and Anchovies

I find most sun dried tomatoes, even the ones in olive oil, rubbery and unpleasant with hard bits. I have made them myself and prefer them just before they are completely dried. I look forward to sampling these.

I was intrigued by these new products I found at the grocery store…

RightRice

RightRice, made from vegetables

RightRice is a blend of lentils, chickpeas, and rice. There were several varieties but these looked the most interesting to me. They claim to be more nutritious and higher in protein than regular rice.

The farm stand down the road was open today and I purchased these lovely carrots and a bunch of dino kale.

 

Another product to try is this organic sprouted blend of brown rice, millet and quinoa. One of my resolutions for 2020 is to add more whole grains to our diet.

Earthly Choice

Sprouted Brown Rice, Millet, Quinoa

And what would the holidays be without at least one new cookbook? This one about exploring the South of Italy. We listen to podcasts on our way back and forth from Fort Bragg to our apartment in Oakland. Katie Parla was featured on one and had fascinating stories about the food of Southern Italy as well as the history. It’s a cookbook to read as well as cook from.

Food of the Italian South

Food of the Italian South

And lastly I will leave you with some wonderful pictures from a Christmas walk. In the hills above Oakland there is a marvelous system of parks and trails. Each year at this time the ladybugs migrate and congregate in one area. It’s always magical to come across them. If the sun is warm and shines on them, they will fly into the air as a swarm and you can hear the clicking of their wings.

 

Again, Happy New Year to you all, and prayers to my blogging friends in Australia for their safety.

 

 

 

In My Garden – December 2019

In My Garden – December 2019

The rain is here at last, long awaited and very welcome. In fact it has been difficult to find a nice day to take some pictures. I’m happy to take a break from the necessity of watering. This will be a brief post as there hasn’t been much going on and plant growth has slowed or stopped altogether. We don’t get a lot of frosty days and snow is almost unknown so plants just go dormant.

The work this month has been to prune back the roses and other perennials, and seed sweet peas for next spring. Now is the time to put seeds in the ground so they can develop strong root systems by May and June.

Last month I also seeded snap/snow peas, two varieties. One is a wavy purple podded strain and the other green, they should be beautiful intertwined on the trellis. They just started coming up in the last week. I ordered the seeds from ROW, they are a trial experimental snow pea mix.

Snap Peas

Snap Peas

Baby kale and purple mizuma are a couple of inches tall.

baby kale and purple mizuma December 2019

Baby Kale and Purple Mizuma December 2019

The winter greens will grow slowly in the cooler temperatures but I should have greens for salads and stir fries by next month.

Fort Bragg Vegetable Garden December 2019

Fort Bragg raised bed garden December 2019

There are only a few flowers still blooming, with the exception of the cupheas.

You can see why they call this variety candy corn. The hummingbirds like it; which is good since the rain has knocked off the flowers of most of their favorite plants.

Here’s a quick look around the other flower beds.

Newly planted perennials

Another bed with another cuphea, this time pink and lavender

More established bed #2

The potted lemon tree continues to product, although the lemons are smaller than normal. I pruned it back and trimmed some of the lemons off the tree in hopes they would grow in size. Maybe I see a little difference but not much.

Potted Meyer Lemon

The big surprise is the strawberry plant growing in the pot. I know no idea where it came from, most likely the birds.

Strawberries in the lemon tree container

So far there are no strawberries but the plant is very healthy. Our cat likes to nibble on the leaves.

And that’s all right now. Have a wonderful holiday everyone.

2019 Christmas Tree

2019 Christmas Tree

 

In My Kitchen – December 2019

In My Kitchen – December 2019

It will be 2020 in less than a month and I admit to being an anxious mess. I have had to take a news break and stop listening to the radio, TV, reading the paper or jumping at various flash news updates on all my electronic gadgets. The world does not feel like a friendly place at the moment. The Thanksgiving holiday was a welcome respite with its reminder of what is truly important. It was a chance to focus on friends and family (including all our furry four legged friends). I count my blessings for those people and animals in my life.

I recently read an article about morning rituals, one stuck in my head. The idea is to take 30 slow breaths first thing every morning, reminding yourself with each in breath of something or someone you are thankful for. It’s so simple and powerful, a gratitude meditation. But you can do it while dressing, or ordering your morning latte, or feeding the dogs. It doesn’t need to be a big deal. I haven’t been good about starting a meditation practice although I think it is important. My mornings are busy and noisy; the dogs usually get me up fairly early and their mood is one of joyous awakening. I can be thankful for their exuberance at meeting the new day. They are certainly a blessing.

Casey and Quinn

We are so thankful you are finally home

Anyway, on to what’s new in my kitchen.

In my kitchen I have lots of dressing, this year I made three batches because there wasn’t enough left over. The first was a vegetarian version of my regular sausage/cornbread/raisin dressing to satisfy all dietary requirements at Friendsgiving (made with parmesan broth instead of turkey broth). You can read the recipe here.  The second and third (yes three!) batches were with chicken sausage, the recipe is here. I did make some minor changes to both recipes in that I roughly tore the cornbread into pieces and toasted them in a 325 degree F until they were beginning to brown and crisp on the edges. I think that step improved the texture of the dressing.

Demolished

Batch number three…

Finished baked Dressing

It is the best leftover with multiple uses…as a bed for poached eggs, as a thickener for a turkey soup, or just reheated in the microwave as a snack. I only make it at two times each year, Thanksgiving and Christmas, my waistline can’t handle any more.

In my kitchen I have Cornish Game Hens cooked sous vide. You have to spatchcock them before vacuum packing and cooking under water for 1 1/2 hours at 161 degrees F. They were brushed with a mix of garlic, orange zest and paprika before cooking. I broiled them for a few minutes after they were done to give them some color.

Sous Vide Cornish Game Hens

Sous Vide Cornish Game Hens

We were very happy with the results.

With the cooler wet weather I have been craving more carb heavy meals, but at the same time I avoid eating a lot of wheat products. So I am interested to try this paleo grain free flour. Pancakes are in my future.

Paleo Baking Flour

Paleo Baking Flour

Have any of you tried it? If so, what do you think and what did you make?

To go along with those pancakes, some wonderful small batch maple syrup.

Maple Syrup

Runamok Maple Syrup

In my kitchen I have some Artisan crackers, these will be very welcome with cheese in the upcoming holidays.

Artisan Crackers

Artisan Crackers

And lastly in my kitchen I have some toasted tahini. I haven’t tried it but I will be making multiple batches of hummus and will let you know if there is a significant difference to my usual preferred brand.

Obour Toasted Tahini

Obour Toasted Tahini

From my kitchen I can see the lights of our Christmas tree. I’ve been collecting ornaments for many years and inherited them from my parents as well. There are many wonderful memories of past holidays and loved ones connected to the ornaments in the tree.

2019 Christmas Tree

2019 Christmas Tree

I’m connecting this post to a virtual blogging party at Sherrys Pickings. It’s the last “In My Kitchen” of 2019, oh my! Please follow the link to read what is going on in kitchens far and wide.

Happy holidays everyone!

November – Roast Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots and Citrus Dressing

November – Roast Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots and Citrus Dressing

Roasted Brussels sprouts, sliced pickled carrots, walnuts, cilantro and a citrus vinaigrette. Is it a salad? Or a side? In fact, it is both as it can be served warm or at room temperature but not cold. If you make it ahead, pull it out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before serving. It might qualify as the perfect side for your holiday dinner, make it a few hours ahead to free up your oven. Add roasted cooked farro or another grain for a vegetarian main meal. It’s pretty as well with the fall colors of orange carrots and bright green sprouts, roasted to dark caramelized perfection.

This recipe came from Six Seasons, A New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden. I love the inventiveness of his recipes and am slowly cooking my way through the book. The premise is that there are actually six seasons, not just four…spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, fall and winter. I think farmer’s markets and our own gardens would support that idea.

Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

(serves 2-3 but can be easily doubled)

Ingredients:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
  • 3/4 pound of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • About 1/3 cup roughly chopped or sliced pickled carrots, either store-bought or home made
  • 1/2 cup of chopped toasted nuts, walnuts or pecans or hazelnuts
  • 1 bunch of scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (white and light green parts)
  • 1/4 cup of citrus vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup of lightly packed and chopped cilantro leaves (I was able to find baby leaves)
  • 1/2 cup of lightly packed and chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and the garlic, cook until the garlic is soft and golden brown, watch carefully and reduce the heat if it is browning too quickly. Garlic turns bitter if allowed to burn.
  2. Scoop out the garlic and set it aside.
  3. Increase the heat and add the Brussels sprouts, cut side down. Season well with salt and pepper and cook until the sprouts are cooked all the way through, browned but not mushy. This will take about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Return the garlic to the pan, crushing it to break it up and mix with the sprouts.
  5. When the sprouts are cooked to your liking, remove the pan from the heat and add the pickled carrots, half the nuts, and all the scallions. Toss to mix and warm the new ingredients.
  6. Spoon the vinaigrette over the sprouts and toss again. Add half the cilantro and parsley.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  8. Right before serving, add more vinaigrette if needed, along with the rest of the nuts, parsley and cilantro.

Citrus Vinaigrette:

  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon Champagne or white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  1. Zest all the citrus with a microplane or small rasp style grater into a bowl.
  2. Halve the fruit and squeeze all the juice into the same bowl, removing any seeds.
  3. Whisk in the honey, vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt and several turns of your pepper mill.
  4. Taste and adjust, if needed.
  5. Whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. For a more emulsified and creamy vinaigrette do this in a blender, drizzling in the olive oil as the machine is running.
  6. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

I am taking this one to Fiesta Friday #305 over at Angie’s place. Please come join the party with lots of ideas about crafts, food, and travel. This week is is co-hosted by myself.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, hard to believe the Christmas holiday is only a few weeks away. Whew!

In the Garden – November 2019

We are still waiting for the winter rains to start, i don’t remember them ever being so late. In truth, I am tired of watering and look forward to reading seed catalogs in front of a warm fire with a cup of tea. But instead, I am digging a new garden bed and putting in plants. I was inspired by my friend Wendy in Berkeley because I helped her design and plant a new garden. And my husband was even in favor of the plan, which surprised me. He’s the one that has to do the watering if I am away. The empty spots will be filled with dahlias that I have ordered and will arrive sometime in March.

New Garden BEd

New Garden Bed

The plants include large number of salvias plus some other plants that I know do well here. We still have to work on the path. I’ve positioned it where the dogs run, so hopefully they will stay off the plants.

Dogs and garden

Mom, do we really have to stay off the garden?

The vegetable garden has slowed considerably but I have baby chard, lettuce, carrots, radishes and kale. I planted snap peas a couple of weeks ago and I see the first small sprouts. I hope to plant my sweet pea flowers by early next week, I’ve ordered a trellis and am waiting for it to arrive. I do love sweet peas and now is the time to seed them, they need the winter rains to develop strong roots. I look forward to flowers in May and June.

Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

The artichoke plants are looking very healthy and bushy. Hopefully I will get some artichokes come spring.

Artichoke Plants

Artichokes

My time this month as been spent weeding, mulching, and cutting almost everything except the salvias back. The salvias are still blooming and are am important source of nectar for the hummingbirds.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my garden. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.