In My Kitchen – July 2021

In My Kitchen – July 2021

There hasn’t been a lot of cooking going on in my kitchen this month. This will be a quick snapshot of what has been happening.

We have been eating a lot of sandwiches. So what you ask? Well, I am a bit old school about dinner and it’s usually more formal-ish. By that I mean it’s a full meal rather than something put together on the fly. Dinner is the time to sit down and call it the end of the day, maybe with a glass of wine. A sandwich is definitely more relaxed. On the other hand there are endless variations and I find it the perfect vehicle for using up whatever is leftover in the fridge.

But I have been busy, too busy for that photographable dinner. Why you may ask? Well, here she is…

Meet Shanna 9 weeks old Aussie puppy

Shanna at 9 weeks

Casey, Quinn and Shanna

Casey, Quinn and Shanna
What have you done Mom?!

Casey, Quinn and Shanna

Casey, Quinn and Shanna
Do we really have to put up with this?

Shanna at 11 weeks

Shanna at 11 weeks
I’m taking all of these toys…ALL MINE!

So, there it is. 3 dogs. Our friends think we are crazy. But, isn’t she adorable? Casey and Quinn think we have brought a monster into their life to disturb their peaceful and orderly existence. She has certainly taken over our schedule, disrupted dinner and upended the normal routine. She is smart though. In only 2 weeks she has learned to come when her name is called plus sit, down and off on command. She will be running circles around us in no time.

I have managed to make few things though. The garden is flourishing with slightly less attention.

In my kitchen I have the first of this season’s zucchini and cucumbers.

Grilled Zucchini from the Fort Bragg garden

Grilled Zucchini from the Fort Bragg garden

 

Greek Salad

Greek Salad with home grown cucumbers

The tomatoes are local but not from my garden. Hopefully that will be remedied in the next few weeks.

I also (finally) strained out last year’s brandied peaches. The sliced peaches didn’t have much flavor but the brandy was yummy. I cooked down the peaches with additional sugar, it will make a wonderful glaze or be delicious used as a quick fruit sauce. The rhubarb was also from last year, this time in vodka. I plan to mix a bit of the rhubarb vodka with sparkling water for a refreshing cocktail.

The past year has certainly been strange, it’s both crept along slowly and Zoomed past. Literally in the last case. I meant to strain both the peaches and rhubarb months ago and completely forgot about them. Meanwhile they were quietly infusing in the back of the garage.

Brandied Peach Glaze, Rhubarb vodka and Peach Brandy

Brandied Peach Glaze, Rhubarb vodka and Peach Brandy

I have lots of basil in the garden.

Basil

Basil

An Aperol spritz is a welcome award at the end of the day. We had them first on a wonderful trip to Italy a few year’s ago. They bring back lovely memories of sitting on a deck after a long day’s hike in the Dolomites with good friends.

Aperol Spritz

Aperol Spritz – We got a taste for them when visiting Italy a few years ago

Thank you for joining me for a peak into my kitchen. This post is part of a regular gathering of bloggers from around the world. Join us to see what’s happening in other kitchens. Thank you Sherry for hosting us, you can read more here at Sherry’s Pickings.

 

 

In My Kitchen – June 2021

In My Kitchen – June 2021

In My Kitchen is a monthly gathering of bloggers from around the world writing about what is new and eventful in their kitchens. It is hosted by Sherry of Sherrys Pickings. Click on the link to discover new ideas, gadgets, recipes, and kitchen stories from talented and entertaining cooks. And please consider making your own contribution.

It’s been a quiet few weeks in my kitchen. A visit to the dentist and the emergency extraction of an infected tooth has kept me on soft and simple foods. However, there are a few things of note.

A kind reader reminded me of a recipe I posted for teriyaki sauce made with dates, no sugar, from way back in February of 2015. I decided it was worth revisiting. You will find the original post here. I made another batch and plan to use it to make teriyaki chicken. It is a thick sauce which would also be suitable for garnishing a rice bowl. I need to go back and reread some of my older posts, there were some pretty good ideas if I do say so myself.

My talented brother made me this wonderful pepper mill.

Pepper Mill

Pepper Mill – from Bocote Wood

Bocote wood is a Mexican and Central/South American Hardwood. Aren’t the contrasting zebra-like dark brown and black stripes beautiful? The pepper mill is unusual because it rests upside down, you remove the top and turn it over to grind the pepper. That way the grinds don’t end up all over the table. Such a lovely gift! Thank you John.

Now that so many of my friends have been vaccinated, we are slowly starting to visit each other. After the isolation of the last 15 months It is pure joy to see them. On a recent leisurely shopping afternoon in Mendocino I found these wonderful carved tongs and chop sticks.

I love the uniqueness of the chopsticks.

In my kitchen I almost always have at least one dog waiting for a belly rub. This is Casey tempting me. Who could resist that furry belly?

Casey

Casey

As far as things of note I’ve cooked this month (or rather in the last 30 days). There is…

 

 

 

 

I haven’t posted this one yet and hope to get around to it. The meatballs were cooked in the air fryer (both gluten and dairy free) and they turned out beautifully. We grilled the eggplant on the BBQ and garnished everything with crisp fried garbanzo beans and pomegranate seeds plus mint and parsley. It made for a scrumptious platter of food for dinner guests.

Crispy Lamb Meatballs with Grilled Eggplant

Crispy Lamb Meatballs with Grilled Eggplant

And lastly this salad, a wonderful side for a BBQ.

And here is my June curveball…

New Aussie Pupp

New Aussie Puppy

She is 3 weeks old in the picture, we are looking forward to her joining our family sometime near the end of this month. We haven’t decided on a name yet and are open to ideas. Please do leave a comment if you have a suggestion.

 

 

May 2021 – In My Garden

May 2021 – In My Garden

As I said last month, spring is where it’s at in Northern California. Everything is blooming after the winter rains, trying to attract pollinators and set their seeds before the dryness of summer puts an end to things. I do water a portion of the garden through the summer, but this year it will be much less. Our lawns turn brown and dry, being without any summer water. Being summer dormant they will return to green come late fall. Our experiment with barley seeds didn’t turn out very well, the usual long winter rainy season never really happened. The new sprouts dried before they really had a chance. It has been the second driest winter in a century. As if there wasn’t enough to worry about, now we add the possibility of a dry well and a bad fire season.

But, in the meantime, the garden is glorious. Pink and blue columbines are almost 3 feet tall, the red and orange geums are in full bloom, salvias are putting out red and blue stalks of flower that attract hummingbirds, and the buzz of native bumblebees fill the air. It was a dry but cold winter, the bumblebees have been late making their appearance.

Grab a cup of tea or coffee (or a cool glass of rose) and let us wander through the garden. Starting with the veggies, my friend Linda provided me with some healthy starts of tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini.

Tomato, zucchini and cucumber starts

Tomato, zucchini and cucumber starts

I’ve planted the tomatoes in the raised beds under plastic to keep them warm.

Lettuce is still abundant, this soft head with a bronze blush is one of my favorites.

Lettuce

Lettuce

 

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums

These apricot nasturtiums have found the way into one of the larger pots, and then they would their way into some botanical gin and tonics. Just the thing for celebrating the first BBQ of the season.

Botanical Gin and Tonic

Botanical Gin and Tonic

We are mulching the garden with a heavy layer of chips from trees we had taken out a couple of years ago. I’m hoping it will cut down of the water required in the flower garden.

The rhododendrons, lily of the valley bushes, and azaleas are blooming.

There are native wildflowers.

And the red salvias are still blooming like crazy, drawing lots of hummingbirds to the garden.

Back Flower bed

Back Flower bed

Columbines…these were originally seeded from my first packet of wildflowers.

And of course there are poppies.

 

Thanks for joining me today. I’d love to hear from you.

May 2021 – In My Kitchen

May 2021 – In My Kitchen

This post is part of a monthly roundup of goings on in kitchens around the world. It’s hosted by Sherry of Sherry’s Pickings. Please consider joining and adding your own monthly update.

We had our first weekend guests at start of this month (who were vaccinated and actually allowed indoors) since the pandemic started 14 months ago. Although it was sunny during the day, evenings were chilly and we were able to beat a welcome retreat inside for dinner.

To celebrate we had these stunning botanical gin and tonics featuring elderberry tonic garnished with flowers and herbs from the garden. Spring is definitely here.

Botanical Gin and Tonic

Botanical Gin and Tonic

Along with buttermilk brined beer can BBQ chicken, I served this delightful celery and lentil salad. Along with crisp crusted local sourdough, it was an easy and delicious meal.

 

In my kitchen there have been new salads that are perfect for serving with spring and summer cookouts.

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Curried Sweet Potato Salad – I’ll have some of that!

A curried sweet potato salad with cashews and creamy goat cheese served with a simple grilled steak.

In my kitchen I have a new Korean pepper paste made with brown rice and red peppers.

Gochujang

Gochujang

While considering what to make for dinner in my kitchen, I saw a recipe for Spicy Fire Chicken (it was also called Maangchi’s Cheese Buldak) in the NY Times food section and was intrigued. Truthfully cooking has become somewhat tedious and the recipe was outlandish and completely out of my usual comfort zone. Here is a link to a YouTube video of Emily Kim (she is the Korean web star known as Maangchi) preparing the dish. I was able to order the rice and red pepper paste on Amazon. And although I fully intended to try the dish, when I tasted a spoonful of the paste it was HOT! So much so that I questioned the wisdom of cooking with it and imagined the hours of heartburn that might result. To the rescue came another very simple recipe using it. This time a simple marinade of equal parts gochujang and honey with a splash of soy sauce and olive oil. To my surprise the comments said that it was not overly spicy. And it was true. So true that I don’t have pictures because we wolfed down the dish before I could pull out my camera! The marinated skirt steak was delicious, it was not hot at all but had a wonderful depth of flavor. I will try and restrain myself long enough to post it next time.

In my kitchen was (all gone now) a cheesecake made with labne. The recipe is from the cookbook Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman. She called it Sweet and Salty Cream Cheese Tart, it’s made with a crust of Ritz crackers and includes grapefruit juice. It appealed to me because it wasn’t overly rich or sweet, and it was easy to prepare (very important). I don’t usually make desserts, preferring savory over sweet.

Sweet and Salty Cheese Tart

Sweet and Salty Cheese Tart

 

Sweet and Salty Cheese Tart

Sweet and Salty Cheese Tart

It cracked a little in the center when cooling but a few fresh raspberries concealed it.

Lastly in my kitchen I made a sheet pan coconut fish and tomato bake. I will post the recipe because it was wonderful. Stay tuned.

Sheet Pan Coconut Fish and Tomatoes

Sheet Pan Coconut Fish and Tomatoes

The rockfish was purchased fresh off the boat in Noyo Harbor. I served it with fresh asparagus and a creamy combination of mashed potatoes and pureed roast cauliflower (left over from a previous meal).

What’s new in your kitchen this month?

In My Kitchen – April 2021

In My Kitchen – April 2021

In My Kitchen is a collection of blogs from around the world. Please join us to find new recipes, ingredients, utensils (an occasional indispensable appliance) and views from kitchens and talented cooks from both hemispheres. A big thank you to Sherry for hosting us at Sherrys Pickings.

What’s new in my kitchen? I purchased these lovely blue/grey bowls when window shopping in Mendocino, CA. I fell in love with the rustic blue/grey glaze. They are the perfect size for snacks while binge watching Netflix. I have a weakness for bowls and would gladly use them instead of a plate most days.

In My kitchen there is a multitude of citrus; lemons, limes and mandarins (or clementines) fill my favorite cloth bowl. It was a Christmas gift from my friend Diane in Florida. I can’t wait to start traveling again and visit her. We’ve been friends ever since we met at homecoming my senior year in college.

Citrus

Citrus and a couple of avocados

I see a couple of ripening avocados in there as well.

I have used some of the mandarin oranges to make roasted chicken with Cuties (or clementines or mandarins or you could even use regular oranges). It’s a simple sheet pan dinner full of sunny flavor.

In my kitchen I have some confit tuna. The recipe came from Melissa Clark’s book Dinner. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out and it used a couple of cups of olive oil, but it was delicious and didn’t taste oily at all.

I served it over some steamed Brussels sprouts with a couple of tablespoons of the oil drizzled over. Leftovers made absolutely the best tuna salad! The tuna was rubbed with harissa before poaching in seasoned olive oil.

From the kitchen in our Oakland home I can see orchids. These are the perfect plant for a place that is only visited a couple of times a month (at least now that most urban events are cancelled). They only need a good watering every two weeks to stay beautiful and the blooms last for months.

orchids

orchids

These are in a grey stand that my friend Peggy gave me for Christmas. I matches the overall urban industrial vibe of the condo.

One of the first things I do when I arrive at the condo and plan to stay for a few days is purchase flowers. You can never have too many flowers, and I love the scent of these lilies.

Lilies

Lilies

These are sitting on the kitchen counter where I can see them from everywhere.

In my kitchen are the leftovers from making buttermilk brined roast chicken. This is a simple recipe that is next on the lis

Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken

Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken

Brining in salty buttermilk results in the most delectable juicy white meat and crisp skin. It is absolutely a game changer.

Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken

Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken

In My Kitchen I have served lamb patties this month. These are both gluten and dairy free. The yogurt sauce was made with Oat milk yogurt. I am so excited by the numbers of new ingredients that are dairy free available in stores these days. And some of them are quite delicious.

And very new in my kitchen this past month were guests. Now that we have been vaccinated we can welcome visitors up on the coast to actually stay in our guest room. After a year of social isolation is it heavenly. Our first guests brought their new puppy, Ollie.

Casey, Quinn and Olllie...ready for a walk

Casey, Quinn and Olllie…ready for a walk

From my kitchen on the coast I could watch the dogs playing with each other. They were just as happy as we were.

What’s new in your kitchen this month?