In My Kitchen – February 2021

In My Kitchen – February 2021

This post is part of a fascinating collection of blogs from around the world. In My Kitchen posts (also known as IMK) are about kitchen (and maybe garden) happenings over the past month. They could include dishes that have been cooked, pickled or preserved foods, herbs and veggies from the garden, plus new and interesting kitchen gadgets and other goings-on… You’ll find almost anything kitchen related. Since the blogs come from around the world (both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere) it’s an international gathering. Please join us over at Sherrys Pickings, add your own post or simply have a good read.

My February is being consumed by the move from out apartment in Oakland to our new (to us) condo, also in Oakland. We’ve been doing some renovations before the big move which happens in 10 days. Oh my, there is still a ton to do! I have only just started packing.

New cabinet doors in the kitchen and the bathrooms were installed last weekend. The painting of the entire unit continues and hasn’t yet been completed. Our painter has assured us that it will be completed at least 5 days before the move. Fingers crossed!

Consequently the cooking part of my life has been fairly simple and uninteresting, although nourishing.

But…stay tuned for next month when there will be lots of new things. The same day we move out, our daughter is moving into her own place. Consequently we are dividing up the contents of our current kitchen. We each have our favorite pots, pans and utensils so there is a lot of negotiating.

On to some details about the remodel. For such a beautiful place, the cabinets were shockingly awful and in terrible condition. They must have gone with the very lowest bid possible when they first installed them, it shows. They were laminate and particle board with cheap hinges that were hung badly. The cabinet doors didn’t really even fit.

Here are a few pictures of before:

As you can see, the pantry doors were too small. All the doors are hung unevenly, sagging a little on the hinges,  and the line of doors over the stove side of the kitchen don’t match in height.

The new cabinet doors are the same color, but actual maple with brass pulls. They did a beautiful job.

Just as an aside, the orange wall hasn’t been painted yet (and the disco ball light fixture will be replaced at some point).

Oakland Condo After

Oakland Condo After

It was the view that sold us on this particular unit. You can see the port of Oakland and San Francisco off to the right. By the way, this picture was taken from the kitchen window.

View from new condo

View from the kitchen, new Oakland condo

The waterfront at Jack London Square is only a block away. Restaurants, theaters, coffee houses, breweries and bars are a short walk. There is a Sunday farmer’s market plus lots of walking/running trails along the estuary. It’s quite a contrast to our rural life in Fort Bragg where we will still spend the majority of our time.

But I am looking forward to having a city home as well.

There is one very interesting new thing in my kitchen in Fort Bragg, rice koji. I will use it for shio koji marinades. I read about this on a chef’s blog and was intrigued. Rice koji is rice kernels covered in a fragrant white bloom of Aspergillus oryzae mold. It has been used to make miso, soy sauce, or koji pickles among other things. As rice koji is fermented with water and salt, it thickens into a porridge-like consistency and takes on a sweet funky aroma. You can see the gas from fermenting in the jar on the right. It’s rich in protease and amylase enzymes that can break down proteins and starches. I plan to use it as a marinade for meat, fish and vegetables. It is supposed to impart savory and subtle sweet notes to food as well as tenderize them. I will let you know.

Koji

Koji

It is common in Japanese cooking and currently popular with chefs.

Have any of you out there used it? If so, what are your favorite recipes?

 

Stay well everyone, and get your vaccinations when it is available.

 

In My Kitchen – January 2021

In My Kitchen – January 2021

In My Kitchen is a collection of posts from around the world. You get to read (and see) what happened in December in kitchens far and wide. There are new baking supplies, new utensils, fanciful decorations, time saving devices and even dog stories. Come join us and consider adding your own. Visit Sherrys Pickings: In My Kitchen. 

January 4 is the first day of my annual 30-day healthy eating plan. With a few friends we have been doing this every January for the past 4 years. We cheer each other on and support each other through our individual difficult spots. For some it’s the sugar or carbs, others late night eating, and still others that 5 pm cocktail. It’s time for a reset with an emphasis on whole foods…grains, lean protein, and lots of fruit and vegetables.

This year my goal is to get back into my skinny jeans. My closet sits abandoned as I wear the same yoga pants or tights and sweatshirts day after day. Comfortable but certainly not stylish. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I want to be ready. Ready to eat in a restaurant, ready to attend a concert, ready to meet my friends, ready to have someone else make me a cocktail, and ready to go back to the gym (if my yoga pants are not worn out by then).

You can find details of the diet and some recipes by clicking on the category “30 day Metabolic Diet” on the right side of my blog. You will need to use your computer as the categories don’t show up on the mobile app.

Here is one to tease you, Phase 1 Greek Chicken Casserole.

So, what’s new in my kitchen?

An air fryer is what’s new, a Christmas gift. I have been lusting after one for several years but was worried about storage. My sister-in-law finally convinced me that it was a good investment. I cooked our Christmas Brussel sprouts in it and they were perfect.

Brussels sprouts in the air fryer

Brussel sprouts in the air fryer

It has a large basket, I expect I can cook most things in one batch. I will be looking for recipes and welcome any suggestions.

In My Kitchen I have some new dishes from Heath Ceramics. I love their heavy weight and nature inspired glazes.

In My Kitchen I also have a beautiful blue woven bowl, a gift from a dear friend.

Blue Woven Bowl

Blue Woven Bowl

I envision it filled with fruit on the kitchen counter.

In My Kitchen I have a box of pears from Harry and David in Oregon. My brother and sister-in-law send us two boxes every Christmas. They are absolutely delicious.

Pears

Pears from Harry and David in Oregon

In My Kitchen it smells fantastic due to making more braised dishes now the winter weather has started. It’s been unusually cold here in N. CA and braised meats are welcome.

I have already posted the recipes for citrus and holiday spiced pulled pork and the slow cooked, spice-rubbed beef with cranberries. Click on the name for the link to the recipe.

From my kitchen I can see our Christmas tree. We will be taking it down in a few days but it makes me happy to see it.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree 2020

The ornaments have been collected over the years and many come from my parents. There are a few grade school projects still treasured. Tea towels and ornaments come back from our travels, bringing back the memories as we hang them on the tree each year.

I wish you all a healthy and happy 2021.

In My Kitchen – December 2020

In My Kitchen – December 2020

Well, here we are in lockdown again. Cases are not so bad here on the North Coast of Mendocino County in California, but more inland they are booming. It hasn’t been a good month for optimism and frankly, I am tired of cooking every night. Not to mention tired of Covid all together. We have been within our own small social bubble for too many months now. I appreciate all the articles on food and cooking in the newspaper, but they are wearing thin. Maybe I’ll just settle for a grilled cheese sandwich and a margarita, or a baked sweet potato and roast vegetables, or a pizza…yes a takeout pizza sounds just fine. With a glass of Anderson Valley red wine of course.

On the other hand, I am grateful that we have food on the table, many don’t at this point.

So, it’s without much enthusiasm I tell you about what’s In My Kitchen.

I did make a quart container of brandied fruit for the holidays. My intention was to make fruitcake, however fruitcake for just the three of us was not appealing. Next year. The brandied fruit would be a wonderful holiday dessert spooned over pound cake with vanilla ice cream.

Brandied Dried Fruit

Brandied Dried Fruit

I am not fond of the candied fruit in fruitcake, this one has none of that. It’s a simple recipe that is endlessly adaptable.

Brandied Dried Fruitmakes 1 quart 

  • 4 oz of currents or raisins or a combination
  • 4 oz of dried cranberries
  • 2 oz of dried cherries or figs
  • 1 oz of dried apricots or prunes
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 lemon, sliced thinly and chopped
  • 1 T of grated fresh ginger
  • 2 star anise
  • 1/2 tablespoon of freshly grated black peper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamon
  • 1/2 cup of brandy or other spirit (I used B & B)

Method:

  1. Chop the fruit into raisin sized pieces.
  2. In a large bowl combine all the chopped dried fruit, the zest of the orange, and the the chopped lemon and spices. Mix well.
  3. Pour them into a quart jar, add the juice of the orange and the brandy.
  4. Cover. Turn several times to mix. Place in a cool place.
  5. Turn the jar over every day to mix the fruit with the brandy.
  6. After about a week; place in the refrigerator. Allow to cure for about 3 weeks before using. ‘

The type of dried fruit is quite forgiving. I knew I purchased cherries but couldn’t find them in the pantry so used dried figs instead. Use your favorites. Ditto with the spirits, I think bourbon would be just fine.

Also in my kitchen are sausage rolls. These are definitely a nostalgia item as I remember my English grandmother making them. These are quite different; using lamb, currents, jarred red peppers and chopped almonds. They were quite delicious served warm with a glass of pinot noir.

Lamb Sausage Rolls

Lamb Sausage Rolls

And really, that is about all that is interesting in my kitchen right now.

We had a small and very lovely Thanksgiving holiday with sous vide turkey thighs and our favorite stuffing (a sausage and cornbread one). It is likely Christmas dinner will be very similar.

And are any of you experiencing the same run on Christmas trees as we are here on the coast? We don’t usually put up our tree until the weekend after the Thanksgiving holiday but all the nurseries have been sold out!!!! Is this the same as the toilet paper run? We are going to have to drive 2 hours to Santa Rosa to pick up a tree this weekend! I think folks are ready to close out 2020 as soon as possible and have something positive in their lives.

This post is part of a regular “In My Kitchen” blogging party. Let your fingers lead you over to Sherrys Pickings for the December In My Kitchen, a collection of posts from kitchens around the world.

Have a wonderful holiday, stay safe and well.

 

In My Kitchen – November 2020

In My Kitchen – November 2020

“Where have you been?” You may well ask. The answer is complicated…in a cave, trying to enter a coma, in a complete media blackout zone, and in general a nervous wreck. I’ve found it almost impossible to write or even do much reading. Books on tape have become my refuge. I apologize if I have missed your blog posts or emails. I promise to recover in a week or so.

Things are not good in the U.S. No matter the outcome of the election (as I write it is currently undecided), things are not good. Whatever side you are on, things are not good. How can folks have such different views of both democracy and leadership; why are we so divided and how can there be so much anger? Even more important, what can we do?

In addition to the horrible political situation, we personally have been closing on a second home/condo/apartment in downtown Oakland. We have deep roots in Oakland, after over 30 years we have many close friends plus all our medical professionals are there. Our retiree medical insurance benefits depend on having a residence in Oakland. Fort Bragg is an example of the deep holes we have in rural health. We are lucky to have a small local hospital but any specialist is over a 2 hour drive away. We have been renting in Oakland since we sold our home two years ago but that was always intended to be temporary. I will attach a picture of the new kitchen at the end of this post. We don’t plan to move until next year as there is some work to be done.

So everything has converged to set up a period of maximum stress in my life and that’s not even mentioning Covid. But, we feel grateful to have our health and a roof over our heads with food on the table, there are many more folks who are less fortunate right now. 

How are you coping out there?

So, what is going on In My Kitchen?

Casey and Quinn

What are you making for dinner Mom? Casey and Quinn under the table.

After almost 10 months of stay at home orders and social distancing, I am running out of steam. It’s been many years since I cooked 3 meals a day for weeks/months on end. “What are we having for dinner?” has become a looming question every day. I am mostly bored with the menu.

With the cooling temperatures, I thankfully have a new repertoire of recipes. The Instant Pot has come out from its summer home in the garage, and I am dusting off my casseroles and braising pots.

I made ox-tail stew for the first time, yes for the very first time. After researching recipes I decided to use the electric pressure cooker. It was absolutely delicious, essentially a one pot meal with the potatoes and carrots. It only needed a green salad on the side. The meat melted off the bone and the sauce was amazing.

Instant Pot Ox-Tail Stew

Instant Pot Ox-Tail Stew with Red Wine

The potatoes came out of the garden. This was a classic stew with carrots, celery, garlic, and potatoes plus tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, herbs-de-Provence, and red wine. It was even better the next day. I will post the recipe.

We also ate a seasonally appropriate dinner of a butternut squash, hominy, and chicken stew. Another cool weather winner.

New in my kitchen is this electric smart rice cooker. I was convinced into buying it after having polenta cooked in a similar pot at a friend’s house. Put in all the ingredients, set the time and walk away???? Sold! I also find it very useful for cooking mixed rice or grain types, oatmeal or porridge. My old rice cooker did a wonderful job with white rice, not so good with other types.

Rice Cooker

Rice Cooker

Also new in my kitchen, or rather in our outside dining area, are these little but powerful lanterns. Now that it is getting darker earlier, candles are not bright enough plus they are frequently blown out by a puff of wind (not to mention fire danger). These little lanterns have two setting so we can see our food and each other in the dark when we have small socially distanced dinner parties.

November is the time for winter vegetables, cauliflower being one of my favorites. We usually have a rather plain roasted cauliflower dish, cauliflower gets the most wonderful sweetness when roasted and charred. This sauce with olives, bacon and crisped parmesan really perked things up and packed a flavor punch.

So that’s about all. I mourn the end of tomato season but cheer the beginning of braised and long cooked meals (or Instant Pot). What are you cooking this season?

As promised, here is a glimpse of the new kitchen.

New Oakland Kitchen

New Oakland Kitchen

We are thinking of refreshing the kitchen cabinets as they are well used (if you look closely) and a little battered. But there is little else to do. It has a wonderful view of the Oakland skyline.

This post of In My Kitchen is part of a monthly summary of kitchen adventures around the world. Come and visit us at Sherrys Pickings.

Be well, be safe, be kind…we are all in this (whatever it is) together.

 

In My Kitchen – October 2020

In My Kitchen – October 2020

In My Kitchen is a monthly gathering of food bloggers from around the world. I’ve learned a lot over the years about new ingredients, products and tools from reading the posts. Click the link above to visit this virtual party. Our host is Sherry from Sherry’s Pickings. Please consider adding your own post, I would love to read what’s new in your kitchen.

September and early October are often referred to as ‘Indian Summer’ here in California. Besides a heat spell which seems to come unexpectedly (but every year) in May, it’s usually the hottest weather of the summer. And, it’s fire season. I used to look forward to this time of year, now I dread it. The good news is that the weather is now cooling and there is a weak storm system on the horizon. Hopefully it will assist the firefighters still battling the August complex fire which has burned at least a million acres and is now considered a ‘gigafire’. It’s the largest fire in California history, started by an unusual lightening storm this past August. Smoke has made the air’s particle count dangerously high. Even here on the coast there have been days when we don’t go outside.

I did manage to find a day to harvest the potatoes out of one raised bed. I was absolutely shocked at the abundant harvest from this one bed! I got almost a bushel of potatoes, Russian Banana and Princess.

September Potato Harvest

Fort Bragg Potato Harvest – September 2020

They are all considered fingerlings.

Fingerling Potatoes

Russian Gold and Princess Fingerling Potatoes

They are thin skinned and creamy inside. So far we have had them roasted like baked French fries and cooked as Syracuse salt potatoes. Have you heard of Syracuse salt potatoes? I had not before I went looking on line for recipes. Salt potatoes are a regional specialty of Syracuse, New York, a.k.a. The Salt City. Salt potatoes date to the 1800s, invented by local salt mine workers who created a simple and inexpensive lunch by boiling small potatoes in brine. The potatoes are still very popular today with the Central New York crowd and I understand they are a regular food item at the State Fair.

When boiled in a heavy salt brine they take on almost a mosaic salt shell but stay deliciously tender and creamy inside.

Syracuse Potatoes

Syracuse Potatoes

See the salty crust on these? I garnished them with some melted butter and chopped fresh herbs.

I served them with cabbage wedges roasted with heavy cream and parmesan and a simple roast chicken.

I have made this in the past with cabbage slices, it’s a favorite way of cooking cabbage as the cream caramelizes and the cabbage itself turns sweet. The link above will take you to the original recipe.

The combination with the potatoes was delicious.

You can find many different recipes for roast chicken on my blog. This simple one is my favorite.

In my kitchen I have a new book, Whole Grain Sourdough at Home by Elaine Boddy. Elaine was one of the first bloggers I met, actually through In My Kitchen, when I first started. At that time it was hosted by Celia of the blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. 

Whole Grain Sourdough at Home

Whole Grain Sourdough at Home

I just fed my sourdough starter (it came originally from Celia’s Patricia – we always name our sourdough starter) and am looking forward to trying some of her recipes. Because of the pandemic’s early enthusiasm for sourdough baking, the stores were out of most flours for months. I think exhaustion has finally set in and the shelves are restocked.

Sourdough Starter - before

Sourdough Starter – It’s Alive!

My own starter is named Devon.

And then there is the occasional flop. Isn’t this salad beautiful? Well, it was not a success in our household. I can’t remember where I found the recipe, maybe in the NY Times. It was a combination of roasted cauliflower and grated or finely chopped raw cauliflower with nuts, herbs, and pomegranate seeds. Sounds interesting doesn’t it?

It could have originally been from “Jerusalem,” the beloved Middle Eastern cookbook from Yotam Ottolenghi.

This salad sounded perfect but the textures and combination of sweet with tart was off. Next time (if there is one) I will make it with raisins or dates instead of pomegranate seeds, add more chopped red onion, more parsley and cilantro, less mint and raw cauliflower. And maybe some chopped green olives…

Roast Cauliflower with herbs and Pomegranate Seeds

Roast Cauliflower with Herbs and Pomegranate

It just goes to show that you can’t always trust a beautiful picture to be a great recipe.

In my kitchen I have two beautiful ladies, just back from the groomers and decked out as harem beauties.

Casey and Quinn as Harem Beauties

Casey and Quinn as Harem Beauties

Actually this photo was taken just outside the kitchen door before they had time to rub off the decorations. They are great favorites at the grooming parlor.

I am excited at the turn of the season. I don’t think summer food is exceptionally post worthy. Just how many blog posts of grilled vegetables and meats do you want to read? Me, not so many. But there are some exciting recipes I am looking forward to sharing, stay tuned.

And, stay well and safe. November promises to be an interesting month…