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.