In My Kitchen – January 2022

In My Kitchen – January 2022

Happy New Year everyone!

And here we are…again.

How are you?

I missed posting on IMK last month, the month just got away from me. It was lovely gathering with friends and family for the Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. I was grateful for every minute we spent together. Our gatherings were small, all of us who were eligible were vaccinated and boosted, and they felt safe. We were careful, so careful. It paid off, everyone is still healthy. What a horrible thing we have to worry about, that you might accidentally infect someone you love!

Hopefully you were able to enjoy the holidays with your loved ones.

We hosted a chili party on New Year’s Day to toast the start of 2022. I meant to take pictures of the chili but we were having way too much fun. Even though it was the coldest day of the season, to date, we managed to have a good time. Our tummies were warmed by chili, our outsides by a fire pit, heat lamps, good friends, and warm winter coats.

Woefully the only pictures I have is of the kitchen the next morning…

The second run of the dishwasher swept them all away. Sadly for us there were very few leftovers.

So, what’s new in my kitchen?

New is this amazing warming tray that kept the various versions of chili hot. I has a large surface so it can hold several large pots. It will be useful for future parties. I am optimistic.

Warming Tray

Warming Tray – Quinn looking on: “what you doing…gonna give me any leftovers?”

I kept the tray just inside the door to the outside deck. Party goers could pop in and fill their bowls with hot chili (get warm for a minute), then add all the trimmings from bowls on a table outside.

In My Kitchen I have some new Christmas cookbooks. I haven’t had a chance to peruse them yet but am looking forward to it. I need inspiration. After two years I have lapsed into a rut as far as meals. We used to have or attend dinner parties once a week, there has been big change these last two years. Hopefully you, kind readers, will see some of the meals in future posts.

Christmas Cookbooks

Christmas Cookbooks

In my kitchen I have this lovely woven bowl in a gorgeous pink color. It was a gift from a long time friend in Florida. My minds eye can see how breathtaking a half dozen lemons will be in it. It came with a molded cloth that is intended to support a bowl in the microwave, and keep your hands from being burned. My friend knows that Paris is my very favorite city in the whole world. They both were made by an artist local to her who is a designer of art and functional objects, named Linda Livingston. Linda can be reached at livingstonlin@icloud.com if you would like to see or learn more about her art.

In my kitchen I have some new flour sack botanical napkins.

Flour Sack Napkins

Flour Sack Napkins

These are from a company called June & December. I really love the simplicity of the botanical embroidery. I crave minimalism in January after all the bling.

In fact, in my kitchen I have lots of napkins of all types and varieties. We use cloth instead of paper napkins and I love having a selection I can match to the food and my mood. These are freshly laundered as we used them for the party. They were given to me by the same thoughtful friend in Florida.

Cloth Napkins

Cloth Napkins

In my kitchen I always have dogs underfoot. Casey at thirteen is endlessly patient with Shanna, the puppy, who wants to cuddle with her. But Casey knows that Shanna is just looking for an opportunity to be naughty.

Casey and Shanna

Casey and Shanna

Shanna is also funny, she has yet to meet a fruit of vegetable she doesn’t adore and she loves ice. These photos were not exactly ‘in’ my kitchen but taken through the French doors of the kitchen looking out into the yard.

She clearly thought the other dogs were about to steal her stash.

The ice had been dumped from ice chests that held the drinks at the party. It was so cold that night that the ice was still on the ground in the morning.

So, here we are again. 2022 feels like an endless rerun.

I know that you may be tired, and anxious, and worried, and perhaps angry. I have been all of those. I think we need to be gentle with ourselves and each other this year. We are fragile.

This quote comes from a newsletter Sarah Bessey wrote, I think it is appropriate for this year.

Be…”Gentle with your words to yourself. Gentle with your expectations. Gentle with your demands. Gentle with your soul. Gentle with your plans, your time, your hours, your sleep. Gentle with your partner, your kids, your people. Gentle with your needs, your wants, your desires. Gentle with your mind and your body.”

I wish you a safe, healthy and happy New Year filled with love.

 

 

In My Kitchen – November 2021

In My Kitchen – November 2021

Last month was a quiet one in my kitchen. I am not sure where the time went, how can it be suddenly November with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner? It’s time to start thinking about decorating, and holiday cooking and gift giving. Oh my! We’ve gone for what seems forever without those things and I’ve lost the habit of holiday momentum. That must be a worry of retailers as well as I started to see Christmas catalogs even before Halloween was over. It gets earlier each year. Don’t you just hate that? I am usually tired of the whole thing by the time the actual holiday roles around.

But, I am looking forward to gathering with family and friends with a new sense of thankfulness and appreciation for what is truly valuable in my life.

The cooler wet weather meant it was time to pull out the Instant Pot (electric pressure cooker) for winter soups, stews and long braises. The flavors of this dish were amazing but I think it would have been better with a fattier cut of meat, maybe lamb shanks or a lamb shoulder instead of the leg. Next time.

I won’t post the recipe until I get it perfected.

Instant Pot Moroccan Lamb with Chickpeas

Instant Pot Moroccan Lamb with Chickpeas

In My Kitchen (at the Oakland condo) I have a new sous vide wand. I got tired of toting the one from the Fort Bragg house back and forth so have purchased a second. We will be spending Thanksgiving day with good friends in Oakland and it’s my assignment to cook the turkey since half the guests are vegetarians. I have found sous vide the very best way to cook turkey, most especially the white meat which can be (and usually is) dry and tasteless. But it’s quite delicious cooked slowly sous vide and not dry at all.

Sous Vide Wand

Sous Vide Wand

Overnight Sous Vide Turkey Breast

As a bonus the breast can be cooked ahead and gently reheated before serving.

Sous Vide Turkey Thighs

Sous Vide Turkey Thighs

I will cook a boneless turkey breast and several thighs separately from each other.

The pictures above are from pre-pandemic holidays.

A trip to the Bay Area is not complete without a visit to Trader Joe’s. We have a wonderful grocery store in Fort Bragg and a farm stand just down the street a bit, but no TJs. I haven’t been in to a department store in a couple of years now. Food stores are different, I enjoy browsing what’s new and usually find some interesting things.

I think these colorful felt trivets would make wonderful holiday gifts.

Felt Trivet

Felt Trivet

‘Cauliflower Slims’ are a good bread or tortilla substitute. They make larger ones but I have found they fall apart too easily. These toast up nicely in the toaster oven.

Cauliflower Slims

Cauliflower Slims

Although I can make my own, they also sell pre-riced cauliflower which is very convenient. I substituted it for the rice in this fried rice dish which was spiced with cumin and mixed with peas, scallions, roasted delicata squash, and baby spinach then garnished with pomegranate seeds (also from TJs).

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Sheet pan dinners are a welcome time saver. I’ve been working my way through sheet pan chicken by Cathy Erway. This was coriander-crusted chicken with crispy chickpeas, fennel and pomegranate.

In the garden the last of the cauliflower had started to bolt, they weren’t nice firm solid heads anymore. But I actually loved that, when roasted, those looser heads resulted in more crispy bits. My favorite.

This was another sheet pan dinner with cauliflower, new potatoes and olives.

This orchid was a house warming gift last October, it has bloomed continuously for over a year. I can see it from my kitchen in the Oakland condo. Orchids are the perfect houseplant for as they thrive on neglect. The only time I’ve killed one is when I overwatered it. This one is beautiful.

We took the dogs (yes, all three) to the condo. It was Shanna’s first time in the city. Country girl turned city girl.

Shanna - first city view

Shanna – first city view

I could watch her from the kitchen. She was absolutely fascinated by the activity in the streets below and the birds flying at her eye height.

We thought she might find the trains (the AmTrack station is next door) frightening but she took everything in stride. She did want to make friends with everyone we saw on our walks, probably more people and dogs than she had seen in the total combined first 6 months of her life.

That’s it for me this month. This post is part of a monthly round up from kitchens around the world hosted by Sherry of Sherry’s Pickings. Please stop by and consider adding your own post to In My Kitchen.

 

In My Kitchen – October 2021

In My Kitchen – October 2021

In my kitchen there is much laughter. Laughter at the antics of puppy Shanna who is now four months old. Watching her encounter new things is almost as much fun as watching a two year old’s first sight of a giraffe. She likes carrots, and pears, and red pepper. Cauliflower, not so much. A small piece of raw cauliflower fell on the kitchen floor when I was making a sheet pan dinner of cauliflower, broccoli and potatoes. Of course she immediately pounced on it as a prize, only to spit it out and stare at it. She tried it again, same result. After three tries she proceeded to attack it, growling as if it were alive. I couldn’t stop laughing.

Shanna

Shanna – I can’t believe you expected me to eat that thing

The cauliflower, potatoes and broccoli came from the garden. I am having trouble eating them before they bolt as everything was ready at the same time. I wish you could buy variety pack starts. Maybe each with 2 broccoli, 2 cauliflower and 2 kale.

Sheet Pan Cauliflower, Potatoes and Broccoli - ready for the oven

Sheet Pan Cauliflower, Potatoes and Broccoli – ready for the oven

They were delicious though, roasted until slightly charred with crispy bits.

Sheet Pan Cauliflower, Potatoes and Broccoli

Sheet Pan Cauliflower, Potatoes and Broccoli

I served it with a dollop of whole milk ricotta on the side.

I am not a big fan of the pumpkin spice craze but I do love the scent of cinnamon, especially with our current chilly fall evenings. This braised chicken dinner with cumin and cinnamon was a big hit. The house smelled amazing while it was cooking. It was simply served with a side of steamed rice and an arugula salad.

Braised Chicken with Tomatoes, Cinnamon, and Cumin

Braised Chicken with Tomatoes, Cinnamon, and Cumin

In my kitchen bookcase I have a variety of new cookbooks. Melissa Clark is one of my favorite writers and I couldn’t resist her books featuring the electric pressure cooker or the Instant Pot. I don’t use that appliance much during the spring or summer. But once the cooler and wetter weather of autumn comes around, I find it an invaluable resource for quick meals or soups or braised dishes.

October 2021 new cookbooks

October 2021 new cookbooks

The Milk Street Cookbooks were purchased on a whim but I find them more useful and interesting than I first imagined. The others were gifts for my birthday (as my mother used to say…”to me, from me, love me”). I have a weakness for cookbooks and quite a collection. There is nothing better than sitting by the fire with a cup of tea and a new cookbook to peruse, although seed catalogs are also excellent in that situation. They are both the stuff of dreams.

I will be posting from them. Stay tuned.

I’ve had the Sheet Pan Chicken cookbook for several weeks, the chicken roasted with baharat came from it.

Also the idea to add a crown of kale to the sheet pan for the last few minutes to crisp.

kale

crown of roasted kale

I love it when a cookbook results in new ideas.

I look forward to sharing my favorites with you.

Lastly in my kitchen I have a puppy who is always ready for a belly rub. Forget the cauliflower.

Shanna begging for a belly rub

Shanna begging for a belly rub – who could resist

I am contributing this kitchen catch-up to Sherrys Pickings: In My Kitchen, a monthly summary from kitchens around the world. Please join us and consider adding your own notes.

In My Kitchen – August 2021

In My Kitchen – August 2021

The puppy has swallowed a large amount of my time this month and much of the remaining mouthful was eaten by the garden. But that doesn’t mean the kitchen has been completely neglected.

From the kitchen I can watch the dogs.

Quinn and her friend puppy Shanna

Quinn and her friend puppy Shanna

Both of them enjoy chewing on sticks, sometimes this results in a very funny expression.

A stick smile

A stick smile

 

Shanna @ 14 weeks

Shanna @ 14 weeks, usually confined when I am actually cooking

Casey is best for encouraging a nap.

Nap time, Casey and Shanna

Nap time, Casey and Shanna

So, what is new?

In my kitchen I have some new measuring cups. These three are specifically designed for liquids, 1 cup – 2 cup – and 4 cup. They are convenient because the measurements can be seen from the top. The handle of my old 1 cup broke and needed replacing so I was excited to get the two other sizes as well.

The 4-cup one is perfect for refilling the hummingbird feeder. The feeder holds almost a quart and needs refilling every few days. I’ve never used so much sugar. Those little birds are ravenous and entertain us with their acrobatics (and battles) outside the dining area window.

In my kitchen garden I have an abundance of zucchini which I have been grilling and making into delicious zucchini fritters. I found a recipe for making them in the air fryer with less than a tablespoon of oil. I am sure you could also do this in the oven.

I will get around to posting the recipe. I’ve made them at least once a week since I found the recipe.

zucchini fritters garnished with avocado

zucchini fritters garnished with avocado and chives

Simply grilled zucchini is also frequently on the menu.

Grilled Summer Squash

Grilled Summer Squash

In my kitchen I have bouquets of sweet peas. They were very late this year, it’s unusual for them to produce so many blooms into August. The scent reminds me of my grandparents garden in England.

Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas

In my kitchen I have sheet pan dinners. Chicken, cauliflower, red pepper sheet pan dinner

I discovered a neat trick for adding extra veggies, I added some lightly oiled kale to the pan for the last 15 minutes. It resulted in crispy kale with the rest of the meal.

kale

roasted kale

This sheet pan resulted in a warm chicken salad with walnuts and blue cheese.

Warm Chicken Salad with Walnuts and Blue Cheese

Warm Chicken Salad with Cauliflower, Walnuts and Blue Cheese

The weather has finally warmed and we are able to have some meals out on the deck. It’s been a foggy summer here on the coast.

Al fresco dining

Al fresco dining

And lastly in my kitchen I have this fun paper collage picture of Casey. I helped host a workshop at the gardens and this was my project.

paper collage

paper collage – Casey

I think it does look like Casey, a little. Anyway it was a lot of fun.

Casey

Casey – ever hopeful to get a treat

This In My Kitchen post is part of a monthly collection of blogs from around the world, focused on what is new in our kitchen (and lives) from the last month. It’s hosted by Sherry of Sherry’s Pickings out of Australia. Please do click on the link to find out what is new in all of our kitchens.

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.