In My Kitchen – November 2022

In My Kitchen – November 2022

Is it November already and time for In My Kitchen? This post is part of a compilation of records of kitchen events from the last month. Here’s the fun part, the kitchens are all over the world. Bloggers from both the northern and southern hemispheres take part. You can read the other posts at Sherry’s Pickings, the link is here. You will learn about new kitchen gadgets, recipes, unusual ingredients, wine, cheese, and chocolate…need I say more?

The holidays are approaching way too quickly. I am starting to think about my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a day that celebrates friendship and family, one that has more meaning to me than Christmas these days. After the last three years, I value and appreciate my close connections to other people (and furry friends) even more. Thanksgiving is less commercialized (unless you count the frenzy of Black Friday). For years I hosted Thanksgiving, but as my friend’s families have grown with grandchildren and in-laws, I surrendered the honor. Now our little family is a happy participant.

This year I am planning to make sous vide turkey roulade, plus a large casserole of vegetarian raisin stuffing. Vegetarian sausage products have improved so much over the past few years that there is no compromise using it rather than regular sausage. I will post the recipe for the roulade, there are several on this site for turkey but I haven’t tried this particular one before. Sous vide has turned out to be the all-around best technique for turning out tender, moist turkey.

And, I am writing this post on election night in the U.S. because I am filled with anxiety. It’s a case of avoidance. I cannot bear to watch the minute-by-minute news programs. I cannot change things. I try to cultivate a long-range view, things have been this bad before. But, here and now, I despair.

But, on to what is new In My Kitchen over the past month.

I purchased this padded mat for the kitchen. It’s easy to clean and comfortable when I am standing in front of the sink and prep area.

Padded Kitchen Mat

Padded Kitchen Mat

I’ve been trying a lot of recipes from a new cookbook. I’ve found the fall recipe section especially inspiring.

salad freak

Salad Freak by Jess Damuck

So far I have made (all slightly adjusted to what I had in the fridge and on hand):

Shredded Kale and Brussels Sprouts with Roasted Squash and Walnuts

Health Food Salad

And a roasted vegetable salad (recipe to be posted soon).

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Roasted Vegetable Salad

A cookbook rarely inspires me this way.

It’s the season for soups and this one was welcome on a cool evening.

Friends have a dog (no longer a puppy) only a couple of days older than our Shanna. We have been scheduling ‘puppy play dates’ over the past 12 months, ever since they were fully vaccinated. Of course, it’s only an excuse for wine and snacks (sometimes a full dinner) on our deck as we laugh at puppy craziness. For our last meeting, we decided on a Greek tapas theme. I made this roasted eggplant with tomatoes and a miso-tahini sauce dish. It was a hit.

Eggplant is usually not one of my favorites, but this time it was roasted to a wonderfully charred deliciousness. It changed my mind.

And that is most of the notable events in the kitchen over the past month. We took a 4 day trip up the coast for a long weekend with hikes over to the lost coast and through the redwoods. It’s on my schedule to write a post detailing our adventures and some of the pictures. Walking through the redwoods feels like entering a cathedral. If you haven’t had an opportunity to visit, I highly recommend the experience. The burls look like creatures out of Lord of the Rings. Here is one:

Looks like a ghoul to me, pulling itself out of the tree.

I wish all of you in the U.S. a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with friendship and love. And, I love comments. Please let me know what’s new in your kitchen over the past month.

In My Kitchen – October 2022

In My Kitchen – October 2022

In my kitchen I see flowers, armloads of flowers have been cut to sit in vases on the counter and the dining table. It’s dahlia season up here on the Northern California coast and they are simply gorgeous. As an added bonus, the gophers (and deer) leave them alone.

They come in the colors of the rainbow. If you can get to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in the late summer or early fall, the dahlia garden is a must see, a favorite spot for weddings.

Besides beautiful flowers, what’s new in my kitchen?

A good friend made this gorgeous cutting board for me.

Cutting board from Paul

Cutting board from Paul

He recently retired and has been spending time in his shop. It’s going to be perfect as a charcuterie board. I envision generous portions of cheese, fruit and cured meats displayed on it. Thank you Paul.

In My Kitchen are these cute wooden whale salad servers. They were a gift from my generous friend, Wendy. Aren’t they adorable?

Whale Salad Servers

Whale Salad Servers

And in my kitchen are new cookbooks. It’s my birthday month and I can’t imagine a more wonderful gift than kitchen inspiration. The one by Aran Goyoaga is filled with gluten free recipes. Since I have several gluten intolerant friends, I expect it to be especially useful.

This new cookbook if full on new ideas, and I am excited to try them.

We eat a lot of salads in this household, frequently as the center of the meal, if not the entire meal. salad freak has already inspired me. Look for posts from it very soon. My mother used to say a cookbook was worth the purchase if you got one great recipe. I’ve already earmarked more than a dozen from this one.

In My Kitchen I have some new spice mixes. These are from the Oaktown Spice Shop. It’s a favorite place to browse when I am in the Lake Merritt area of Oakland. Just walking into the store and taking a deep breath transports me to exotic places. They also have an on-line shop and are very efficient about prompt mailings if you are too far away to visit. .

New Spice Mixes

New Spice Mixes

I haven’t tried this salsa yet, the recipe is on the back of the package.

We are in a shoulder season right now, the time between late summer and early fall. Our evenings have turned crisp and cool, but the mid afternoon sun is still warm. I adore the earthy smell of early autumn, it’s my favorite time of year. We are still using the BBQ most nights and also enjoying tomato season. It will be over soon and my thoughts will turn to winter squashes and greens.

We have been lucky that an unexpected mid-September storm rolled through and ‘mostly’ put an end to the worries of fire season.

We used the Traeger Grill to smoke some pork chops, they were delightfully juicy and flavorful.

Smoked pork chops

And enjoyed fresh tomatoes on crisp bread with mozzarella with them.

Our meals are still simple, I haven’t pulled out the slow cooker, casseroles, or the instant pot yet. It will soon be the season of soups and braised dishes, but not yet.

And here is my surprise. A picture of a dragonfly in my pollinator garden, I’ve never seen one before with this particular coloring. After doing some research, I discovered that this is a male 12-spotted skimmer. He let me get quite close to take a photo. Isn’t he beautiful?

Male 12-Spotted Skimmer

Male 12-Spotted Skimmer

In My Kitchen is a virtual party of bloggers from all over the world. It’s a collection of posts about what is new in their kitchens, a summary of the last month bounty.  It’s hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. Click on the link to read those posts.

In My Kitchen – September 2022

In My Kitchen – September 2022

It’s been a few months since my last In My Kitchen post and I am happy to rejoin the group. In My Kitchen is hosted by Sherry of Sherry’s Pickings. It’s a collection of posts from bloggers around the world, a fascinating look at what’s new in their kitchens. It’s not so much a collection of recipes, although you may find an occasional one, but more a diary of the past month’s events in the kitchen. In my case it will be several months. Click on the In My Kitchen link to read them all.

Here in my Northern California kitchen it is almost fall, my favorite season of the year. In the past few years it has also been the beginning of the dreaded fire season, which is not so good. We already have some big ones going in parts of the state. The coast is blessed with cool and foggy weather but winter rain fall has still been below normal. Our fingers are crossed that we have an early rainy season and escape the fires.

Food wise there hasn’t been much to write about these past few months. We eat a lot of very simple meals when the weather is warm, grills and simple salads are stars of the menu. We have been using our new Traeger Grill quite a lot for glorious smoked and grilled foods.

Smoked and Grilled Chicken Thighs

Smoked and Grilled Chicken Thighs

I do have an ode to cauliflower, which has been a star of the vegetable world for several years as well as a star in my own kitchen this past month. I find it amazingly versatile. Here are a few ways I have recently prepared it…

Mashed Cauliflower

Mashed Cauliflower

I think it’s even more flavorful than mashed potatoes.

Fried Riced Cauliflower

Stir Fried Riced Cauliflower with spinach and pine nuts

This was a quick and easy way to use the pre-riced cauliflower you find in many grocery stores.

Riced Cauliflower Salad with Chick Peas, Dates, and Herbs

Riced Cauliflower Salad with Chick Peas, Dates, and Herbs

A perfect salad to take to a potluck. You can make it ahead, and it’s both dairy and gluten free (as well as vegetarian).

Lastly here is a simple side dish to toss in the oven when you are baking a chicken. Sheet pan roast riced cauliflower with peppers and spinach.

Sheet Pan Riced Cauliflower

Sheet Pan Riced Cauliflower

I have found that the packages of pre-riced cauliflower at Trader Joe’s and other stores are best for roasting as a riced vegetable. Since many stores sell the florets, the stems are used for the riced cauliflower. If you are making mashed cauliflower, the florets are best as they are tender. Or, purchase an entire head, use the florets for mashed cauliflower and pulse the stems in your food processor to the consistency of rice.

Sheet Pan Riced Cauliflower

Sheet Pan Riced Cauliflower with a roast chicken breast

Our friend Marylinn suggested this contraption for making scrambled eggs in the microwave. It’s from the Pampered Chef. Now there are no morning discussions in our house about how the eggs should be cooked. My husband can make his own preferred scrambled eggs (he isn’t a cook but has mastered the technique with the ceramic egg cooker) and I soft cook my own in the air fryer (11 minutes at 270 degrees F). We are both happy.

Pampered Chef

Pampered Chef – ceramic pot for scrambled eggs in the microwave

In My Kitchen I have flowers from the garden. It’s dahlia season and I planted some new varieties last spring.

dahlias

dahlias

I adore having cut flowers in the house.

Lastly I have, what looks like, a new dog in the house. Casey, our eldest, has a lot of fur with a think undercoat. She has been miserable in the warmer weather. So we had her trimmed. What looked like an overweight dog is now slim and trim. It was an amazing transformation.

Casey, puppy Shanna, and Quinn

Casey, puppy Shanna, and Quinn

Casey, after

Casey, after

I is difficult to believe she is the same dog. And she is so much happier and energetic. I know that trimming their fur is not good for it overall, but at almost 14 it seemed more important that she be comfortable.

Shanna is doing well, we’ve had a lot of company this summer…many of them with their own pups. Shanna has been in heaven.

Heather, Shanna, Casey and Quinn with the conductor

I hope you have enjoyed this quick look at what’s new in my kitchen.

 

In My Kitchen – July 2022

In My Kitchen – July 2022

It’s been several months since my last IMK post. In My Kitchen is part of a collection of posts from bloggers around the world, hosted by Sherry of Sherrys pickings. The posts detail what’s new in kitchens over the past month (or several months as the case may be). Click on the link to read them or join us. What’s new in your kitchen?

In My Kitchen, or rather on the back deck, is a new smoker/BBQ. It was a very generous gift from a house guest and we have just started using it. Last night we had the juiciest and most delicious pork chops I have had in my entire life. First smoked and then quickly seared. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures because we gobbled up every last scrap and chewed on the bones as well. I apologize to any vegetarians reading this post.

Traeger Grill

Traeger Grill

In my kitchen I have some new whole wheat grains from Community Grains.

They are a California company dedicated to restoring the full meaning of “whole grain” to commercially available products.

From a study on their website:

“This study investigates whether current systems of whole wheat production and labeling meet consumer expectations for “whole wheat”:  a reasonable belief that 100% or certainly most of the kernel (“whole”) is contained in the output of any whole wheat mill and therefore any product made from it.  Dr. David Killilea developed a procedure for accurately determining levels of whole wheat in products labeled “whole grain” or “whole wheat,” taking measurements of a biomarker protein (wheat germ agglutinin—WGA) present in the germ of the wheat kernel.”

The results were fairly shocking in that many products labeled whole wheat are actually not.

In my kitchen I have some imported pumpkin torchio pasta which was delicious with a sauce of roasted butternut squash and fried sage leaves.

In my kitchen I have flowers, early summer is when Northern California gardens are in their prime. I love having freshly cut flowers in the house.

Flowers from the garden

Flowers from the garden

In my kitchen I have a new cookbook by Ali Slagle, I Dream of Dinner. She is a contributor to the NY Times food section.

I haven’t had a chance to cook from it yet although I am enjoying reading it. Have any of you tried anything?

The summer brings fairly simple meals around here, grilled chicken and sliced seasonal tomatoes being a favorite.

Chicken thighs on the Traeger grill

Leftovers make great tacos.

Lime Garlic Chicken Tacos

Lime Garlic Chicken Tacos

The garden has also been able to provide us with fresh zucchini and greens.

Zucchini from the garden

Zucchini from the garden

Because of the current uptick in Covid cases, I have been limiting how often I go to the grocery store for supplies. So occasionally the larder is somewhat bare. But I have found even a simple meal of roast asparagus and french toast eggs can be delicious. This meal reminded me of ‘toads in a hole’ as the eggs were baked in a hole in the bread.

A chilled glass of wine can make any meal memorable, even a simple one.

 

In my kitchen I always have dogs underfoot. My friend’s dog Heather was visiting and hanging out.

Casey, Quinn, Heather and Shanna

Casey, Quinn, Heather and Shanna

And here is Casey looking somewhat like a stuffed dog in her ‘thunder shirt’ which is supposed to calm her from anxiety.

Casey

Casey

Sadly she has been having a doggie version of night terrors. We are hoping that medication will calm her, so far it is having only limited effectiveness.

And that’s my update. I’d love to hear from you if you leave a comment.

 

 

In My Kitchen – April 2022

In My Kitchen – April 2022

This post is part of a compendium of posts from kitchens around the world. It’s especially wonderful to drool over the tomatoes and other vegetables harvested by bloggers in the Southern Hemisphere this time of year, when we in the North are struggling to find a creative way to use yet another head of cabbage or bunch of kale. Use the link to Sherrys Pickings to find them and drool away.

My kitchen is not particularly creative these days as I would much rather be outside in the garden. Meals have been on the simple side.

A roast chicken serves us for several meals, it’s a favorite and there are several versions from simple to fancy on this blog. If you have time, do rub a couple of teaspoons of kosher salt over the skin and let the chicken rest, breast side up and uncovered, in the fridge for at least an hour (I’ve left it for 48 hours). Then bring it to room temperature before roasting, about an hour is plenty of time depending on the temperature of your home. Leave the salt on when roasting, the skin will be crackly crisp and the meat tender. That short dry brine makes a huge difference to the final juiciness.

This quick mid-week’s version was coated with a mixture of peach jam and Dijon mustard (1:1) before being popped in the oven. To speed the cooking time, use a smaller roasting dish and open the legs out. It’s usually the inner part of the thigh that takes longer to cook when a chicken is traditionally trussed.

Midweek Roast Chicken with Carrots and Parsnips

Midweek Roast Chicken with Carrots, Onions and Parsnips

There were a few noteworthy dishes though…

For a more robust take on my roast cabbage with cream and parmesan, I made Melissa Clark’s streamlined stuffed cabbage. Ms. Clark is one of my favorite food writers and I find her recipes are frequent winners.

Roast Cabbage Steaks with Cream and Parmesan

Roast Cabbage Steaks with Cream and Parmesan

Her recipe (published in the NY Times) had a paste of garlic, anchovies, parmesan rubbed between the leaves before roasting. A sprinkling of chopped walnuts for the last 10 minutes, and a garnish of more grated parmesan and chopped parsley completed the dish.

Roast Cabbage

Roast Cabbage with Provincial Flavors

It definitely had a ‘South of France’ vibe and was delicious.

In my kitchen I have some new containers to keep my fridge organized. These were a gift from a houseguest who swore by them. They do keep produce fresh much longer.

Fridge organizers

Fridge organizers

But just every bit as valuable, they allow me to see whats in the fridge rather than produce languishing in the back of the vegetable drawer.

In My Kitchen I prepared a Moroccan inspired dinner for friends who are finally departing on a much delayed vacation trip. On the menu was a salad of roasted cauliflower, carrots, couscous, garbanzo beans, currents, almonds and green olives.

Moroccan Salad

Moroccan Salad

As well as an eggplant and tomato spread, feta, stuffed grape leaves, and olives.

Eggplant spread

Eggplant spread

It was a beautiful spring day and we ate outside in the sunshine.

And lastly, our puppy Shanna has yet to meet a vegetable she doesn’t like. Here she is begging for a piece of broccoli stem. Which she promptly ate, and requested more.