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