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.

 

 

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.