In My Kitchen – April 2019

In My Kitchen – April 2019

Well, as one blogger wrote last month, this should be titled Not In My Kitchen. Why, because I haven’t been very inspired to spend quality time there. Do you ever get that way? The grey days are getting to me and I hunger for fresh tomatoes, basil, grilled food, and a glass of rose sipped on a deck warmed by the sun. Alas, it is not to be for several more months.

Meanwhile the garden provides wonderful lettuce, and kale…lots of kale.

Arugula, radishes, and lettuce

To maximize the deliciousness of that lettuce I purchased a new salad spinner. The old one threatened to jump off the counter whenever I used it and inspired the dogs into fits of barking.

Austrian Technology

The new one is by Mueller from Austria and it is very well made, in fact they mention European craftsmanship in their brochure. While placing my order on Amazon they suggested that other folks who have made this purchase also bought a container for storing the lettuce (those Amazon folks are clever and devious). Anyway, I fell for the sales job and purchased it as well, and I am very happy I did. It does seem to keep the lettuce fresher for longer. I feel a little less guilty because I’m not buying those plastic clam shells of lettuce from the store. I’m on a kick to reduce the amount of plastic that flows through the house, which is very difficult.

Anyway, here it is:

Lettuce keeper

It has a tray in the bottom where you can put a few drops of water. It stores a generous two dinners worth of salad, and we eat a large portion each meal.

 

Lettuce

Lettuce Keeper

All in all I think it is quite clever.

We are eating a lot of wonderful main meal salads.

Typical salad

Also new in our kitchen is this electric kettle. We drink buckets of tea and I find the electric kettles heat water faster than one on the stove, and it lessons the disaster of a kettle boiling dry. A common happening if you (or I) get distracted. Unfortunately they don’t seem to be terribly well made and we have already gone through 2 in the last 12 months. Maybe we just use it very frequently. Hopefully, this one will be different as it was more expensive. We shall see.

Electric Kettle

Meanwhile, soups and chili seem to be on the menu frequently.

Deconstructed Wanton Soup

Best Ever Chili Without Beans

In My Kitchen is this lovely tea towel, made by my friend Wendy to commemorate our Alaska trip last summer.

Alaska tea towel

And that is about it for this month.

In My Kitchen is part of a monthly review of kitchens around the world. Each month is a fascinating glimpse into what is new, I have learned so much about new ingredients and utensils from reading the posts each month. Do stop in, it’s hosted by Sherry of Sherrys Pickings. And please chat with us about what is new in your kitchen and in your part of the world.

In My Kitchen – January 2019

In My Kitchen – January 2019

Happy New Year everyone! I hope your holidays lived up to your expectations. In My Kitchen is part of a collection of blog posts listed on Sherry’s Pickings. The posts come from around the world, describing kitchens and what is cooking from both hemispheres. Want to know the latest food trend in Australia and how they manage Christmas in mid-summer? Take a peak, it makes for fascinating reading if you are a foodie.

December was a busy month for me, making gifts and party food to share with friends and family. My responsibility at the feast included trays of roasted vegetables. Most of them were eaten on the day, but I did bring home some leftovers which I used to make this lovely stuffed sandwich.

Our annual New Year’s Day hike and chili party was up on the coast, a new location this year for the tradition. We hiked to the waterfall in Russian Gulch (now generously flowing after winter rains) and returned to a late lunch of chili, wine, salad and camaraderie.

Waterfall at Russian Gulch

Unfortunately the ground beef chili with beans was gone before I could take a picture. Both the chili and vegetarian tortilla soup were big successes. I will remake and post the traditional beef one as experienced tasters declared it the best they have ever had. No-leftovers attested to the truth of that statement.

So, what is new in my kitchen this month (or rather, mostly last month)?

Winter is citrus season, so I spent time preserving a glut of Meyer lemons (from our own tree), and a surprising gold mine of kumquats from the local grocery.

The lemon recipes can be found here, and the one for the candied preserved kumquats here.

I made a hot and sweet mustard, perfect gift giving and adding a punch to any kind of beef. Try it with roast beef or pot roast instead of horseradish.

I also made some sous vide lemon ginger curd. I’ve been making lemon curd for years but this is the first time I have used the sous vide method. The addition of some grated ginger added a little kick to the sweetness. There are a lot of recipes out there for making sous vide (in the water bath) lemon curd and I had a couple of colossal failures until I stumbled upon one that actually worked, the others resulted in a soupy mess and the loss of almost a dozen eggs. Look for a future post with pictures.

The holidays always bring me new cook books, my husband is well aware of my weakness for them.

In my kitchen I have…

You can read more about them on the following links:

Season

Salt Fat Acid Heat

Everyday Dorie

I’m looking forward to cooking and posting from them. Let me know if you have any of the books and can steer me to your favorite recipes.

In my kitchen I have sous vide turkey thigh confit. Organic and free range turkey thighs went on special after the holidays and I could not resist. Cooked for 24 hours sous vide they are absolutely delectable and rival duck confit in my opinion. They can also be shredded and as a lower fat replacement for pork carnitas. They freeze well once cooked (for that matter you can season them, vacuum pack them, then cook them while still frozen as well).

Turkey Thigh, Seasoned and Ready to Cook Sous Vide or for the freezer

Now comes January, it’s time to step on the scale and take a reckoning. What has been the cost of the fun in 2018? Believe me it was all worth it. It was an eventful year. We enjoyed a cruise to Alaska and two weeks in Italy. There were  also a few more celebratory events such as the sale of our home in Oakland, a visit with a friend in Florida, and a week at the Ashland Oregon Shakespeare Festival (spent sampling wonderful restaurants and attending equally wonderful plays). The holidays (starting with my birthday in October) only added icing to the cake, so to speak. Time to clean up my act so I can enjoy our trip to Paris on the 31st of this month. I have almost 4 weeks to lose those extra pounds and I know how to do it.

Last January a few friends and I finished 28 days of the Fast Metabolic Diet. Collectively we lost over 50 pounds, plus reduced our cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It works. Don’t go to her website, I feel she has sold out to big business. The book and suggestions however, work. They come from the early days of her nutrition consulting business when she cared more about her clients than making money.

I am doing this with the same two friends as last January, please join us. I will post the best recipes but you can find additional posts if you look in my category “fast metabolism” on the right of the blog. The diet works and you will feel fantastic. One of my friends has continued to improve her health (and reduce her weight) through all of 2018 by following a very modified version of the diet for the whole year (even including a generous Manhattan on Friday nights).

And myself, I am still below my weight of a year ago but in need of a tune up. Those half dozen pounds don’t feel good in my clothes, and my sugar and alcohol consumption levels have crept up over the year. It is time for a re-set.

You can read my post from January of last year, describing the program here. It’s easy to focus on what you are not supposed to eat (dairy, wheat, refined carbs, soy, alcohol, sugar and caffeine) but what you do eat is whole grains, lots of vegetables, lean meat, beans, and fruit. In 28 days you will find your tastebuds have been “reprogramed”, you will taste the natural sugar in food. I promise you, it happened to all of us.

Thank you for visiting. Again, I wish you a happy new year full of health and happiness. It won’t hurt to add prayers for peace, sanity and compassion in the world of politics as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In My Kitchen – December 2018

In My Kitchen – December 2018

It’s December, oh my! Last year we decided to be grinches and completely ignore the holiday. No tree or ornaments, minimal gifts, no Christmas puddings or special desserts, no turkey (although I did make roast beef), no stuffing (to my families great regret), no decorating at all. We were in the middle of getting the Oakland house ready to sell and downsizing. So, to keep our stress level at a bearable level, we decided to skip Christmas. It was empowering. I recommend an occasional miss to the craziness of the holiday. I give you permission.

This year it feels totally new and fun. After a year’s respite, we are deciding what traditions to keep, what is important to us. We have a tree, although it is somewhat smaller than the ones we used to have at the Oakland house. There is only room for the most beloved of ornaments. And I have decorated the house, but more on a minimal scale.

This year I am busy making gifts in the kitchen to share with friends and family. So, what is new in my kitchen? This post is part of a regular theme, bloggers from around the world share what is new in their kitchens each month. It’s a fascinating glimpse and I am so happy that Sherry has taken on the responsibility of hosting us each month. You can read those other posts by following the links on Sherrys Pickings.

In My Kitchen
Sherry’s Pickings

In my kitchen I have kumquats. I so rarely see them in the market that I had to snatch up a quart of them. My mother use to make wonderful preserved kumquats that she served with smoked chicken or turkey.

Fresh Kumquats

Preserved Kumquats

It’s a four-day process but very easy. I will be posting the recipe.

In my kitchen, I have Meyer lemons. I decided to harvest most of the lemons from the tree in a half wine barrel on the deck. There were dozens of small ones and I hope to encourage larger ones by the selective pruning.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8e33

Meyer Lemons

In my kitchen I have Meyer lemon confit (a big hit), sugared Meyer lemon slices, and an Indian Meyer lemon pickle.

Follow the link to see the recipes if you find yourself in a similar position. Of course you could use regular lemons as well. Since you are using the skins, organic is better without that wax coating.

Lemon tree with blossoms and tiny new lemons

The tree already has many blossoms and tiny green lemons.

In my kitchen I have turkey stock, simmering from the turkey carcass that was in the freezer after Thanksgiving. It will be the base for wonderful soups this winter.

Simmering Turkey Stock

In my kitchen I also have turkey confit made from thighs. These I cooked for 24 hours sous vide at 149 degrees F. They come out meltingly tender and delicious. That’s some of the lemon confit and lemon olive oil in the bag flavoring them.

Turkey Thigh Confit

If you are cooking sous vide for many hours, I recommend purchasing a protective sleeve (made from wet suit material) and a cover. It will save electricity and keep condensation away, as well as saving plastic wrap.

Sous vide

You can purchase the hinged covers on Amazon, you will want to find the one that is specific for your sous vide machine.

In my kitchen I have homemade red wine vinegar. This crock has been going for several years now and the vinegar is wonderful. I pour in all the leftover dregs of red wine.

I am using the vinegar to make mustard as gifts. This is one of my mother’s favorite recipes for holiday giving. You need to be partial to the heat, it is hot. Again, another post in the making.

Beginnings of homemade mustard

Lastly in my kitchen is Fennel Spice. This is a recipe from Michael Chiarello. I use it to flavor roast chicken and lentil soups. If you have never had it, I highly recommend his recipe. It is positively addictive and is a favorite of mine for holiday giving.

Toasted Fennel spice before grinding

Lastly in my kitchen I have these wonderful tulips, definitely a splurge but they are so beautiful. I try to avoid purchasing commercial flowers (that industry is not at all environmentally sound) but couldn’t resist.

Tulips

I can enjoy them just on the other side of my kitchen sink. They are a splash of color on a grey cloudy day.

What are you up to in your kitchen this month?

 

 

In My Kitchen – November 2018

In My Kitchen – November 2018

November In My Kitchen is really about the October events. And truthfully, there isn’t much to tell. The next post in November (which will be posted in early December) will be an entirely different story. October was very quiet in the kitchen because most of the work and fun has been going on in the garden. To get an update you can click on this link, In My Garden – November 2018.

In My Kitchen is a collected series of posts (sometimes called IMK for short) hosted by Sherry of Sherry’s Pickings. Click on this link and you will be able to read other posts about fascinating things and wonderful ingredients in kitchens all around the world. It is especially fun to read about kitchens in your opposite hemisphere. For me in Northern California that would be the Southern Hemisphere, where spring is just starting.

But there are a few new things in my kitchen.

I purchased a large bag of porcini mushrooms while we were in Italy in September.

Dried Porcini Mushrooms

I was looking forward to making something with them, they are terribly expensive here in the states. November is the beginning of the fresh mushroom season (it’s a big deal up here on the coast). Fresh mushrooms of infinite varieties are stocked in the local grocery stores and even at roadside stands.

Deborah Madison in her new book, In My Kitchen, had a recipe for dried porcini, fresh mushrooms, and tomatoes that looked delicious. It was a perfect opportunity to sample the dried mushrooms.

In My Kitchen by Deborah Madison

It would be a wonderful vegetarian main dish served over polenta. We served it as a low carb (we did just get back from Italy after all) side with a few slices of steak. I will post the recipe in few days.

Porcini and Stewed Tomatoes

New In my kitchen is this antique Bakelite tomato knife. It was a gift from my friend Dianne, who is an avid thrift store and antique store shopper. Bakelite was the first plastic made from synthetic components by an American chemist in Yonkers NY in 1907. This one has a wonderful retro look.

The first cranberries are appearing in the markets and I made this apple-cranberry sauce to take to dinner at a friend’s house. He was making pork roast and asked us to bring the apple sauce. I couldn’t resist making something more seasonal.

Apple Cranberry Sauce

Lastly, new in my kitchen is the makings of Michael Chiarello’s fennel spice rub. It’s a favorite in our household; a mixture of toasted fennel, cardamon, white peppercorns and salt. I usually add some cumin seeds because I love them so much. I often give it in small jars as a present during the holidays.

Fennel Spice Rub

Happy Holidays everyone!

In My Kitchen
Sherry’s Pickings

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.