In My Kitchen – April 2018

In My Kitchen – April 2018

It’s that time of the month again, time for an update from kitchens around the globe. In My Kitchen (sometimes simply termed IMK) is hosted by Sherry of Sherry’s Pickings. You can read this month’s posts here. You will find a fascinating private tour around an amazing variety of kitchens.

To get on to my own, I am now down to a manageable two kitchens as our Oakland house has sold and we have moved out of temporary digs into a lovely apartment in Oakland. We now have our rural kitchen on the Northern California coast (Fort Bragg, CA); and the urban one in downtown Oakland. The absolute best of two worlds.

This will be your first peak into the new apartment kitchen. The layout is sometimes termed a galley kitchen. Everything is very compact and economical, on two sides opposite each other.

From the kitchen I have a view right into the living/dining area plus greenery from the tree outside the living area window. It works very well indeed.

Much to my joy we were able to bring our antique pine armoire with us to the apartment. It was our coat closet at the house in Oakland. Now my very clever husband was able to repurpose it as a pantry, as well as fitting spice and condiment  shelves on the kitchen closet door.

So, I have tons of storage in a comparatively small space.

The corner window seen from the kitchen is the perfect place for a large houseplant, but so far I haven’t had time to do a proper search. It’s been years since my “hippy” days when houseplants were all over my apartment, now I generally concentrate on my outdoor garden. However, the corner is the perfect spot with tons of indirect light. I discovered (thank you for contacting me Gary), this very helpful article on the best houseplants. Houseplants are actually recommended by NASA because of their positive impact on our home environment. You can read more about the top 35 houseplants by clinking on the link. I found it very helpful in narrowing my search. And will keep you posted on the final results.

Good light even on a rainy day

Best news is that the apartment is near the “Urban Wine Trail”, plus walking distance to the ferry to San Francisco, Bart, and the Oakland waterfront.

Rosenblum Cellars

No, the best part Mom is that we get to be in the apartment with you. Dogs not only allowed but welcomed.

On to what is new in my kitchen.

In my kitchen is this strange fruit. I do volunteer work in the botanical garden in Mendocino and was gifted with it. The tree was growing right through the greenhouse roof. Do you know it? It is called a Tamarillo and also sometimes a tree tomato. The other gardeners were not crazy about the taste but didn’t think they had let it ripen enough. Have any of you tried it? I thought it was beautiful, a lovely color. How do you know when it is ripe?

Tamarillo

In My Kitchen I have this lovely tea towel a friend brought back from her trip to Brittany. It is almost the same color as the tamarillo.

Tea towel from Brittany

In My Kitchen I have preserved lemons. These are Meyer lemons, harvested from the backyard tree in Oakland before the house sale was finalized. Elaine at the Foodbod gave me the idea of using different flavors when preserving them in salt. I drooled over her idea of Christmas flavors. I salted the lemons and let them sit for a week, then added additional lemon juice to cover plus a cinnamon stick, star anise, cardamon pods, and cloves. To the other jar I added turmeric, ginger, peppercorns and chili flakes. They will need to sit for several months before using them. I will let you know how they turn out. You can read more about the process on her link. The ones you preserve yourself are way better than any you can buy at the store.

Lastly, as a result of reading a blog post for bacon fried rice written by Chef Mimi, I ordered this fish sauce on Amazon. It wasn’t available at any of the local stores and was highly recommended by her and several others. I look forward to trying it.

Fish Sauce

Although there are several other new things, I will wait for next month. What is new in your kitchen?

 

 

In My Kitchen – March 2018

In My Kitchen – March 2018

Thank you Sherry for again hosting this month’s In My Kitchen at Sherrys Pickings. This is an opportunity for us to take a fascinating look into kitchens around the world. While we in the Northern Hemisphere are in tail end of winter, the Southern is finishing up summer and heading into fall. What is new in your kitchen? Link up to share with us all.

What happened to February?! It passed in a blur because of the preparation and sale of our Oakland house. Dealing with last minute repairs and upgrades, staging (inside and out), documents to sign, moving trucks, the search for an apartment, not to mention the ensuing celebrations with friends when the sale when through (final on February 27)…things happened way too quickly for me to get around to writing an IMK post last month. In truth, there wasn’t much time to do any ‘fancy’ cooking at all. Several on-line and in-person friends were participating in the 28 day Metabolic Diet with me for much of the time. Meals were thankfully very simple.

As a result, this month is a combination of new things from both February and March.

Stock

The staging of our Oakland home included some extensive landscaping as well; mostly trimming, mulching, replacing gravel on pathways, plus a few in ground plantings. I took some pictures of the final result and will share in another post. Included in the staging were some lovely plants in pots. Once the house was sold, I brought the pots with me up to our home on the coast. Most have already been planted in the new garden. I cut the stock flowers before the heavy rains could destroy them. Fingers crossed the plants put out another bloom cycle. Stock has a special place in my heart because it was one of the first flowering plants I put in when we originally purchased the Oakland house. These are a beautiful lavender blue. We will see if the plants thrive up here on the coast. In Oakland I found they were a treat for the deer and sadly never planted them again after that first year.

On our last day of official ownership I harvested some lemons from the Meyer tree in the back yard. I will preserve these in salt.

Meyer lemons

I have found that I am a total failure at cooking rice without a rice cooker. Carrying one back and forth from the coastal kitchen to the urban one in Oakland is way too much trouble (although I would do it since rice is a stable in our home). So, I purchased a very simple one on-line. My Oakland rice cooker is now over 40 years old and going strong, it only has ‘on and off’. I didn’t want a fancy one for the other kitchen.

Electric Rice Cooker

The first time I cooked this sprouted brown rice in the new rice cooker, it was a complete success. I am not sure it tasted any different from regular brown basmati rice although they say that sprouting releases more vitamins.

Sprouted Brown Basmati Rice

I have been searching for ways to make my sous-vide cooking more efficient. I found these reusable bags with a manual pump for vacuum sealing them. I haven’t had a chance to try them yet but will let you know how it goes.

 

I did find this energy conserving padded cover for my sous vide water bath, it will help maintain the constant temperature. It’s made from wetsuit material. On the same web search I found this nifty cover to capture the condensation (otherwise you need to constantly check and refill the water level…not something I want to do in the middle of the night). They make them to fit most brands of sous vide machines. With the cover I don’t need to use plastic wrap (which is what I was doing) when cooking for an extended period (such as overnight oatmeal). Again, less waste.

 

We finally have some winter weather here in Northern California. It has been unseasonably warm, then freezing temperatures, but not much rain. This week winter storm ‘Quinn’ struck bringing heavy rain, cold, and some hail. The ski resorts are happy. Rain is woefully low this winter, the snow pack (which we depend on for summer water) is low as well.

Heavy Rain and Hail

The cold has made winter stews and soups attractive. I finally pulled out my Instant Pot (although another brand) and and have been experimenting with various kinds of soups. I will post the most successful version.

Cold weather puts me in the mood for Mexican and other spicy foods.

Trader Joe’s has both frozen mashed cauliflower and winter squash. I did some experimenting with the cauliflower, it was quite good. Even better was mixing the cauliflower and winter squash together. They would have been quite wonderful with the addition of butter and cream but I was on my 28 day Metabolic Diet. All the recipes above were made while on the diet (BTW, it was a roaring success for all participants).

5 Hour Beef Stew with Mashed Cauliflower

Winter has been dreaming of spring, perusing seed and plant catalogs and planning a new garden for the home on the coast in Fort Bragg. I visited Annie’s in Richmond last week and went a little crazy. It is unbelievable that I haven’t been to this nursery before. There are acres of small plants just ready for the garden. If you live in the US you need to check out their on-line shipping and catalog. I have been doing  a lot of digging and amending new beds for plantings up on the coast. I find digging very therapeutic and it has been a month full of nerves.

So, in my kitchen are colored pencils and the beginnings of a garden plan.

Garden Plan

You can see that my cat walked across the pages with muddy feet while I was out in the garden, she likes the plan.

Stay tuned for my monthly garden post and progress report.

What is this month like for you?

IMK Sherries Pickings

 

 

 

January 2018 – In My Kitchen

January 2018 – In My Kitchen

At the moment I have three kitchens, which is at least one too many. The kitchen of our Oakland house is mostly empty, the floors are being replaced and stained. It goes on the market on January 28, my Mom’s birthday. I hope it is an auspicious day.

Oakland Kitchen

Oakland Kitchen

I will be sad to leave the back splash of hand painted tiles. Chris painted them for us when I discovered that similar painted ones at the tile store were $50 each. There is no way to remove them without ruining the wall.

Our second kitchen is in Swan’s Marketplace co-housing. We were lucky to find a fully furnished apartment that we could rent for a few months. Even better, it is across the courtyard from a friend’s apartment. I have always wanted to experience co-housing and it is lovely!

Swan’s Co-housing kitchen

Swan’s Co-housing kitchen

And kitchen number three is at our Fort Bragg home, my refuge with the dogs. I was fortunate to have a friend and her dogs visit over the Christmas holiday, so we had a “pack” and a delightfully furry time.

Quinn, Heather, Casey and Oreo

Casey and Oreo – any snacks for us? We like messy cooks.

They like to hang out with me in the kitchen.

What else is in my kitchen this month? This red typewriter case is a family heirloom, rediscovered in the back of the garage when we were clearing it. For many years it was the family picnic case, always at the ready for an impromptu meal on the road. I think at one time it actually held my mother’s manual typewriter, the ones she typed for her cooking classes. But mostly I remember it as containing “the essentials” if we were renting an ill-equipped cabin or needed to stop for lunch on a long drive or road trip.

The Typewriter Case

Inside the typewriter case

In my temporary kitchen I have a soda stream. This is an amazing gadget that turns ordinary tap water into soda water. This is very environmentally wise if you consider all the plastic or glass bottles used for fizzy water.

Sodasstream

In my kitchen I have a new book by Nigel Slater “The Christmas Chronicles”. This is for next Christmas, because of the move we didn’t have time for much of one this year. I have plans and high hopes for Christmas 2018.

Nigel Slater “The Christmas Chronicles”

I think all the new foods at the market are fascinating, fancy chickpea crumbs to replace panko.

Chickpea crumbs

Here is another gem, freeze-dried blueberries. I will use them to flavor my overnight sous vide oatmeal. They also have freeze-dried strawberries and pineapple.

Freeze dried blueberries

In my kitchen I have harvested Meyer lemons from the backyard tree in Oakland.

Meyer Lemons

And avocados and fruit from the store.

Avocados, tangerines, pears

And lastly, new in my kitchen is this lovely bowl from Heath Ceramics. It matches the salad bowl I received for my birthday and was a very considerate Christmas gift.

Heath Ceramic Bowl

You can go to Sherry’s Pickings for the monthly glimpse into kitchens around the world. Happy New Year everyone!

 

December 2017 – In My Kitchen

December 2017 – In My Kitchen

We are leaving my current Oakland kitchen; this is likely the last IMK post from here. We have been packing and will  move out before the 26th (that is right…the day after Christmas) because they will be installing new flooring prior to the house going on the market.

The cupboards are emptying

I will be sad to leave this home of 28 years, but it is time.

The blog will continue from our temporary furnished rental home in the heart of Old Town Oakland, then on to a new kitchen sometime in the early spring. We plan to spend more time at our home on the coast and find a smaller place in Oakland where we can lock the door and go adventuring on a whim. But downsizing is a difficult transition both physically and emotionally. And downsizing this time of year has put me completely out of the Christmas spirit, especially when it comes to gift giving. We are donating 30 years of acquired stuff, things we didn’t really need. It is eye opening.

Only a small portion of what is being donated

So far we have taken dozens of boxes of books to the library, several car loads to Goodwill, and have a growing pile of trash to haul away. It definitely puts one off consumerism and into a minimalist mode.

I am determined to only keep what I truly love, and use the things I have.

There are a few new things in my kitchen though.

Heath Ceramics Salad Bowl

This lovely Heath Ceramics Salad Bowl was a birthday gift and I adore it. My older salad bowl was chipped with the glaze starting to wear off. I use this bowl almost daily, it is large enough to toss a meal sized salad.

I have been transferring bulbs from the garden to their new home a bit further north.

Transplanted Dutch Bearded Iris tubers

In doing so I have dug up a large number of Jerusalem artichokes, so many that I donated a huge shopping bag to the food bank.

Jerusalem artichokes

I am not sure that I want to plant them as they have been very invasive. But they were delicious in a dish I found on line for Jerusalem artichokes with saffron, chicken, and lemons. I added a few regular artichoke hearts for good measure. It was a big hit.

Roast artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, and chicken with saffron and lemon.

They are also delicious simply roasted like a potato.

Roast Jerusalem artichokes

Between Halloween and Thanksgiving Trader Joe’s released this wonderful snacking trail mix. I am not a big fan of pumpkin pie flavored foods and these were quite good with lots of ginger to spice things up.

Trader Joe’s Harvest Spice Trail MixPlease bear with me through this transition. I will be back with more posts and more kitchens.

Please bear with me through this transition and keep viewing for glimpses of my new kitchens.

You can take a peak into other kitchens around the world by visiting Sherry at Sherry’s Pickings for more IMK posts. Add your own post by the 10th of this month.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday. May it be filled with joy, love, laughter, family and friends.

 

In My Kitchen – July 2017

In My Kitchen – July 2017

Can you believe we are on the downward slope of the year? It’s July, oh my goodness. And it’s one of my favorite times of the month, time for another “In My Kitchen” post. This one will be linked with the rest of the IMK bloggers through Sherry at Sherry’s Pickings. Click on the link to read the stories of kitchen adventures around the world.

There are lots of new things in my kitchen, starting with this lovely tea towel a friend brought back to me from her trip to Iceland.

Iceland tea towel

Also new is the hedgehog scrubber I saw at the store, I couldn’t resist. It is very flexible so gets into the corners of a pan and is safe for non-stick surfaces.

Hedgehog scrubber

Are you familiar with Yotam Ottolenghi? He is the inspiration behind the London restaurants Ottolenghi and NOPI, and has written several vegetarian cook books. They include Plenty, Plenty More and Jerusalem. His recipes have a wonderful mix of new spices, exotic ingredients, and methods (at least to me), many of them coming from the middle east. He now has a column in the New York Times Wednesday food section. In one last month he discussed Tahini, giving a review and recommendation of brands. I must admit to being a tahini ignoramus. Although I use it often, I had no idea that I was buying an inferior brand. Usually there is only one brand available at the store. Al Arz was one of the brands he uses in his restaurants, I found it on Amazon and immediately purchased a couple of jars. Oh my!!! What a difference! My eyes have been opened.

Tahini Sauce

His cookbooks use a number of items that are not familiar to me. When I saw these dried Black Lemon Omani, I immediately purchased a bag. So far I have dropped one into a braised chicken dish where they added a gentle citrus flavor. I will be doing more experimenting.

Dried Lemons

Baked Chicken with Thai flavors and Dried Lemons

Also in my kitchen the month is this strange fruit which looks like something out of a horror movie. It was at Trader Joe’s and I had to try it. The guy next to me just opened a package and took one out to eat, but I was too well brought up to do the same and purchased a whole package containing about 10. They are called ranbutan. Once you peel off the hairy shell (it is soft), a silver colored fruit that looks like a lychee is revealed. It has a pit and tastes a bit like a lychee. Have any of you tried it? I am not sure I am a fan, ok but not great.

Ranbutan

New in my kitchen is this charming tea cup with a strainer inside. I have been drinking more loose herb teas and this cup makes it very convenient to brew just one cup.

Tea Cup and Infuser

I fell for the green grass on the outside. It reminds me of the meadow at our cabin on the coast.

Not new at all are these glasses that belonged to my grandparents.

Antique Glasses

They are absolutely lovely, very fine crystal. But we are trying to downsize and my heart is broken. I am not sure I can bear to part with them but the glass size is very small compared to more modern wine glasses. This set also contains glasses for sherry and port, which we do not often drink. Storage space is going to be at a premium.

In my kitchen are the first figs from one of my two container trees on the deck. I hope to plant these trees in Fort Bragg once I find the perfect spot. These are perfectly ripe and I only just managed to collect them before the squirrels. Figs don’t ripen once you harvest them so having a backyard tree is a luxury. It is only a little tree but there are dozens of fruit ripening.

Figs

In my kitchen is the first strawberry jam of the year. In past years I would have already been preserving like crazy but this year has been busy.

In lastly but certainly not least, in my kitchen are my constant companions, always ready in case of an accidental spill or dropped treat.

Casey and Quinn

What’s new in your kitchen?