In My Kitchen – October 2018

In My Kitchen – October 2018

It is sooo… good to be back in my kitchen! My traveling (we had such wonderful adventures) is over for a few months. I will tell you about it in another post, but it has been a whirlwind of a summer. In June we were in Tennessee visiting family, July on a cruise to Alaska, September hiking in Italy, and then immediately off to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. It’s why you haven’t heard from me in a while, and why I have been out of my kitchen. But now I am back, in both the kitchen and garden.

October is my absolute favorite month of the year. Fall is definitely here, the air is full of a cool crispness, time to break out the sweaters and boots. Thankfully the heritage tomatoes are still in the stores for my last-minute cravings of Greek and caprese salads. Or a simple meal of perfectly ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced, on crisp grilled country style bread…maybe a little flaked sea salt and a drizzle of good olive oil. Heaven!

So being said, the first thing in my kitchen is a variety of wonderful fresh tomatoes, a few from my own garden (although it is looking pretty sad right now, I will be posting some pictures). The rest from elsewhere.

Heirloom Tomatoes from Ashland and my garden

Ashland is significantly warmer than Fort Bragg, definitely a tomato growing region. I couldn’t turn down gifts from my friend’s garden and the local store before driving back home this past Sunday.

Not looking sad at all are the dahlia plants in my garden. As soon as I arrived home I picked  enough for a large bouquet on the kitchen counter. Having fresh flowers in the house brings me into my happy place. I have tried to plant in my garden so I will have some flowers and/or greenery year round. It keeps me and the pollinators happy. More about that in another post about the garden in October.

Dahlias

Dinner Plate Dahlia

The blooms are huge, dahlias really thrive here on the coast.

In my kitchen I have 4 new pottery bowls from Tagliaferro Ceramics. They sell gorgeous rustic serving and other dinner ware items. These are seconds, they were handmade and came from a shop in Ashland. I love the mismatched natural shapes, light grey color and interesting glazing. I think they will add that certain something to photos and will be perfect for fall soups and stews.

See what I mean?

Chili anyone?

With the cooler weather I pulled out my electric pressure cooker, not an Instant Pot but very close. Now in my kitchen I have a big batch of vegetarian black bean chili…made without pre-soaking the beans. Yes you can do that with the electric pressure cooker. Delicious, perfectly cooked black beans in about an hour! I will post the recipe.

Also new in my kitchen is this lovely kitchen plank.

Do you see the face? It is made from antique California Chestnut Oak by Meadowlark Woods in Talent, Oregon (outside Ashland). Here is a link to their etsy page and their Facebook page. The plank is quite large and perfect for serving cheese, bread, and charcuterie. I fell in love with similar ones while we were in Italy. They were on all the buffets covered with delicious food.

Both of these items were found in a little store in Ashland called Nest. If you are ever up there I recommend paying them a visit.

In my kitchen I have a new mandolin. This is a plastic one made in Japan, very inexpensive. I had an expensive stainless steel one that never worked well (except to slice my finger), it was donated when we were cleaning out the house in Oakland. Then I realized that certain dishes really require thin and even slices. My knife skills are not quite up to snuff. I got this one on Amazon.

Mandolin

And lastly in my kitchen I have a new cookbook, appropriately titled In My Kitchen by Deborah Madison. I use her vegetarian cookbooks all the time (since I was first introduced to her cooking at the San Francisco restaurant Greens). It was one of the first all vegetarian restaurants in the Bay Area. I recommend going there if you get to San Francisco, it is right on the marina and a lovely place to walk.

In My Kitchen by Deborah Madison

This one is a collection of her new and favorite vegetarian recipes. None of them seem very complicated and they are all colorful and fresh, not overly carbohydrate heavy.

This post is part of a monthly round-up of kitchen stories from around the world. It is hosted by Sherry of Sherrys Pickings. I haven’t been around since June and am very happy to be back and part of the group. Take a peak and see what going on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In My Kitchen – June 2018

In My Kitchen – June 2018

This month is about gratitude. I am filled with gratitude. Gratitude for wonderful and loving friends and family who joined us to celebrate our new home, two significant birthdays, our 30 year anniversary, and survival. Survival through my second brush with cancer last year. i have a lot to be grateful for.

Gratitude

My kitchen and home in Fort Bragg was filled with those friends. Here is a small glimpse of those who came to celebrate. I wish there were more pictures. We had such a lovely time that we were too busy to take them. Even the playlist (that I spent hours pouring over) never got played. It would have interrupted the conversation.

My tartine sous chefs – Diane, Pat and Jane

I had lots of eager help. These lovely ladies came from Florida and Texas, they were my sous chefs for the three tartines served as a first course. Such a joy to have them in my kitchen.

In my kitchen is pickled asparagus, wonderful minced and mixed with sour cream (and/or mayonnaise) as a sauce for roasted asparagus.

Pickled Asparagus

Roast Asparagus with Pickled Asparagus Sauce

In my kitchen I had another sous chef who helped with the lentil salad and many more tasks in the week prior to the party.

Lentils with roasted cauliflower, almonds, dates and sliced onions – Marylinn

The lentil salad was a big hit. Thank you to my book club friend who recommended the recipe and my San Diego friend who helped assemble it.

Roast cauliflower and lentil salad with dates and almonds

In my kitchen I had grilled salmon. My husband was able to purchase an entire 18 pound salmon in Oakland’s Chinatown a few days before the party. The recipe came from A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus by Renee Ericklson in Seattle. It was amazing. Only a little was left over to be smoked by another friend. Look for that in next month’s post.

Grilled Salmon with Cherry Tomato and Cucumber Salad

In my kitchen I had sous vide chicken breasts with magic green sauce.

Sous vide chicken breasts with magic green sauce

Sous vide chicken breasts, coconut brown rice

And in my kitchen I always have an eager clean up crew.

We are ready anytime you need us!!!

Thank you everyone or coming and spending time in my home and kitchen; whether in person, in spirit, on on line. I truly feel blessed.

This post is part of a monthly peek into kitchens around the world, and I do mean the world. Australia, US, sometimes New Zealand, the UK and others that come and go. Sherry @ Sherry’s Pickings is the host. There is always something new, click on the link to take a look and please, join in with us.

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!