In My Kitchen – August 2021

In My Kitchen – August 2021

The puppy has swallowed a large amount of my time this month and much of the remaining mouthful was eaten by the garden. But that doesn’t mean the kitchen has been completely neglected.

From the kitchen I can watch the dogs.

Quinn and her friend puppy Shanna

Quinn and her friend puppy Shanna

Both of them enjoy chewing on sticks, sometimes this results in a very funny expression.

A stick smile

A stick smile

 

Shanna @ 14 weeks

Shanna @ 14 weeks, usually confined when I am actually cooking

Casey is best for encouraging a nap.

Nap time, Casey and Shanna

Nap time, Casey and Shanna

So, what is new?

In my kitchen I have some new measuring cups. These three are specifically designed for liquids, 1 cup – 2 cup – and 4 cup. They are convenient because the measurements can be seen from the top. The handle of my old 1 cup broke and needed replacing so I was excited to get the two other sizes as well.

The 4-cup one is perfect for refilling the hummingbird feeder. The feeder holds almost a quart and needs refilling every few days. I’ve never used so much sugar. Those little birds are ravenous and entertain us with their acrobatics (and battles) outside the dining area window.

In my kitchen garden I have an abundance of zucchini which I have been grilling and making into delicious zucchini fritters. I found a recipe for making them in the air fryer with less than a tablespoon of oil. I am sure you could also do this in the oven.

I will get around to posting the recipe. I’ve made them at least once a week since I found the recipe.

zucchini fritters garnished with avocado

zucchini fritters garnished with avocado and chives

Simply grilled zucchini is also frequently on the menu.

Grilled Summer Squash

Grilled Summer Squash

In my kitchen I have bouquets of sweet peas. They were very late this year, it’s unusual for them to produce so many blooms into August. The scent reminds me of my grandparents garden in England.

Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas

In my kitchen I have sheet pan dinners. Chicken, cauliflower, red pepper sheet pan dinner

I discovered a neat trick for adding extra veggies, I added some lightly oiled kale to the pan for the last 15 minutes. It resulted in crispy kale with the rest of the meal.

kale

roasted kale

This sheet pan resulted in a warm chicken salad with walnuts and blue cheese.

Warm Chicken Salad with Walnuts and Blue Cheese

Warm Chicken Salad with Cauliflower, Walnuts and Blue Cheese

The weather has finally warmed and we are able to have some meals out on the deck. It’s been a foggy summer here on the coast.

Al fresco dining

Al fresco dining

And lastly in my kitchen I have this fun paper collage picture of Casey. I helped host a workshop at the gardens and this was my project.

paper collage

paper collage – Casey

I think it does look like Casey, a little. Anyway it was a lot of fun.

Casey

Casey – ever hopeful to get a treat

This In My Kitchen post is part of a monthly collection of blogs from around the world, focused on what is new in our kitchen (and lives) from the last month. It’s hosted by Sherry of Sherry’s Pickings out of Australia. Please do click on the link to find out what is new in all of our kitchens.

In My Kitchen – June 2021

In My Kitchen – June 2021

In My Kitchen is a monthly gathering of bloggers from around the world writing about what is new and eventful in their kitchens. It is hosted by Sherry of Sherrys Pickings. Click on the link to discover new ideas, gadgets, recipes, and kitchen stories from talented and entertaining cooks. And please consider making your own contribution.

It’s been a quiet few weeks in my kitchen. A visit to the dentist and the emergency extraction of an infected tooth has kept me on soft and simple foods. However, there are a few things of note.

A kind reader reminded me of a recipe I posted for teriyaki sauce made with dates, no sugar, from way back in February of 2015. I decided it was worth revisiting. You will find the original post here. I made another batch and plan to use it to make teriyaki chicken. It is a thick sauce which would also be suitable for garnishing a rice bowl. I need to go back and reread some of my older posts, there were some pretty good ideas if I do say so myself.

My talented brother made me this wonderful pepper mill.

Pepper Mill

Pepper Mill – from Bocote Wood

Bocote wood is a Mexican and Central/South American Hardwood. Aren’t the contrasting zebra-like dark brown and black stripes beautiful? The pepper mill is unusual because it rests upside down, you remove the top and turn it over to grind the pepper. That way the grinds don’t end up all over the table. Such a lovely gift! Thank you John.

Now that so many of my friends have been vaccinated, we are slowly starting to visit each other. After the isolation of the last 15 months It is pure joy to see them. On a recent leisurely shopping afternoon in Mendocino I found these wonderful carved tongs and chop sticks.

I love the uniqueness of the chopsticks.

In my kitchen I almost always have at least one dog waiting for a belly rub. This is Casey tempting me. Who could resist that furry belly?

Casey

Casey

As far as things of note I’ve cooked this month (or rather in the last 30 days). There is…

 

 

 

 

I haven’t posted this one yet and hope to get around to it. The meatballs were cooked in the air fryer (both gluten and dairy free) and they turned out beautifully. We grilled the eggplant on the BBQ and garnished everything with crisp fried garbanzo beans and pomegranate seeds plus mint and parsley. It made for a scrumptious platter of food for dinner guests.

Crispy Lamb Meatballs with Grilled Eggplant

Crispy Lamb Meatballs with Grilled Eggplant

And lastly this salad, a wonderful side for a BBQ.

And here is my June curveball…

New Aussie Pupp

New Aussie Puppy

She is 3 weeks old in the picture, we are looking forward to her joining our family sometime near the end of this month. We haven’t decided on a name yet and are open to ideas. Please do leave a comment if you have a suggestion.

 

 

May 2021 – In My Kitchen

May 2021 – In My Kitchen

This post is part of a monthly roundup of goings on in kitchens around the world. It’s hosted by Sherry of Sherry’s Pickings. Please consider joining and adding your own monthly update.

We had our first weekend guests at start of this month (who were vaccinated and actually allowed indoors) since the pandemic started 14 months ago. Although it was sunny during the day, evenings were chilly and we were able to beat a welcome retreat inside for dinner.

To celebrate we had these stunning botanical gin and tonics featuring elderberry tonic garnished with flowers and herbs from the garden. Spring is definitely here.

Botanical Gin and Tonic

Botanical Gin and Tonic

Along with buttermilk brined beer can BBQ chicken, I served this delightful celery and lentil salad. Along with crisp crusted local sourdough, it was an easy and delicious meal.

 

In my kitchen there have been new salads that are perfect for serving with spring and summer cookouts.

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Curried Sweet Potato Salad – I’ll have some of that!

A curried sweet potato salad with cashews and creamy goat cheese served with a simple grilled steak.

In my kitchen I have a new Korean pepper paste made with brown rice and red peppers.

Gochujang

Gochujang

While considering what to make for dinner in my kitchen, I saw a recipe for Spicy Fire Chicken (it was also called Maangchi’s Cheese Buldak) in the NY Times food section and was intrigued. Truthfully cooking has become somewhat tedious and the recipe was outlandish and completely out of my usual comfort zone. Here is a link to a YouTube video of Emily Kim (she is the Korean web star known as Maangchi) preparing the dish. I was able to order the rice and red pepper paste on Amazon. And although I fully intended to try the dish, when I tasted a spoonful of the paste it was HOT! So much so that I questioned the wisdom of cooking with it and imagined the hours of heartburn that might result. To the rescue came another very simple recipe using it. This time a simple marinade of equal parts gochujang and honey with a splash of soy sauce and olive oil. To my surprise the comments said that it was not overly spicy. And it was true. So true that I don’t have pictures because we wolfed down the dish before I could pull out my camera! The marinated skirt steak was delicious, it was not hot at all but had a wonderful depth of flavor. I will try and restrain myself long enough to post it next time.

In my kitchen was (all gone now) a cheesecake made with labne. The recipe is from the cookbook Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman. She called it Sweet and Salty Cream Cheese Tart, it’s made with a crust of Ritz crackers and includes grapefruit juice. It appealed to me because it wasn’t overly rich or sweet, and it was easy to prepare (very important). I don’t usually make desserts, preferring savory over sweet.

Sweet and Salty Cheese Tart

Sweet and Salty Cheese Tart

 

Sweet and Salty Cheese Tart

Sweet and Salty Cheese Tart

It cracked a little in the center when cooling but a few fresh raspberries concealed it.

Lastly in my kitchen I made a sheet pan coconut fish and tomato bake. I will post the recipe because it was wonderful. Stay tuned.

Sheet Pan Coconut Fish and Tomatoes

Sheet Pan Coconut Fish and Tomatoes

The rockfish was purchased fresh off the boat in Noyo Harbor. I served it with fresh asparagus and a creamy combination of mashed potatoes and pureed roast cauliflower (left over from a previous meal).

What’s new in your kitchen this month?

In My Kitchen – March 2021

In My Kitchen – March 2021

It’s the In My Kitchen time of the month. Known as IMK, this is a collection of posts from bloggers around the world detailing what is new in their kitchen. You will read about new ingredients, techniques, appliances, kitchen upgrades and gadgets. I’ve been part of the party for several years and have learned a lot. So come on over to Sherry’s Pickings (she hosts it) and read all about our kitchen adventures.

So, what’s new in my kitchen?

The kitchen in Oakland got some nifty new mats. These are waterproof, vinyl and padded for comfort.

Kitchen mats

Kitchen mats

I love the patterns and they make cleaning up spills a cinch. I purchased them through the Food 52 website, they have lots of designs available. Note: I do not receive renumeration from any product recommendation.

Also from Food 52 I purchased a small cast iron spice grinder.

 

I find that purchased ground spices lose their aroma and flavor very quickly. And when I grind them in my mortar and pestle they tend to fly out and land all over the place, including the floor and even in my hair. This small grinder allows me to grind just the amount I need for a recipe, and keeps everything where I want it…not the floor and certainly not on me.

In My Kitchen I have a couple of new cookbooks. These are vegetarian and vegan, which I am not. However, the recipes are wonderful and creative. Many of us are pursuing a more plant based diet and I recommend both of them.

First Mess is vegan, but you certainly wouldn’t feel deprived eating anything you created from this book. The pictures made my mouth water.

Description from Amazon: “Home cooks head to The First Mess for Laura Wright’s simple-to-prepare seasonal vegan recipes but stay for her beautiful photographs and enchanting storytelling. In her debut cookbook, Wright presents a visually stunning collection of heirloom-quality recipes highlighting the beauty of the seasons. Her 125 produce-forward recipes showcase the best each season has to offer and, as a whole, demonstrate that plant-based wellness is both accessible and delicious.”

Start Simple is vegetarian and also very creative.

Description from Amazon: “From veteran food writer, recipe developer, and creator of the James Beard Award-winning Jarry magazine comes an innovative approach to vegetarian cooking.

What have I got to eat? It’s a question we ask every time we open up the refrigerator or pantry door. It might be eggs, some cheese, and half a loaf of bread, or a box of wilting greens, garlic, and some sweet potatoes. Though these ingredients may not seem like much to make a delicious meal, recipe developer and author Lukas Volger knows it’s all you need. In Start Simple he offers a radically new, uncomplicated, and creative approach to cooking that allows you to use what you already have on hand to make great meals you didn’t think were possible.”

I am looking forward to cooking from them both and sharing my favorites with you.

I’ve been playing around with the air fryer that I received for Christmas. Vegetables cooked in it have been a big hit. There isn’t any vegetable that I don’t enjoy roasted, now I don’t have to turn on the oven for a small batch. So far the biggest successes have been with Brussels sprouts, delicata squash, and mushrooms.

You will find the recipe for the mushrooms here. Both the squash and the Brussels sprouts were cooked at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes with a shake in the middle. Cutting the delicata into slightly thicker slices seemed to work the best. The middle was meltingly soft but the outside was delightfully charred. When in season, delicata squash is my favorite of the winter squashes because the peal is edible. I love tossing them in a salad along with crunchy nuts, sharp red onion, arugula and a mustardy dressing…cubes of sharp cheddar cheese optional.

In the air fryer, I have also cooked a pork tenderloin and chicken cutlets. I’ll post the chicken cutlet in the next few days. The pork tenderloin was very successful. Bone in chicken thighs were less successful, but a bone in chicken breast turned out juicy and delicious.

The chicken cutlets I used boneless and skinless breasts, cut in half horizontally, then breaded and cooked in the air fryer with only a few drops of oil. Stay tuned for the recipe, it still needs a little fine tuning.

Air fryer chicken cutlets

Air fryer chicken cutlets

I’ve been having fun with it, I only wish it didn’t take up so much space on the counter.

In My Kitchen I have a batch of moonlight cherry tomatoes. This year I have found the cherry tomatoes in the grocery store lacking in flavor. I don’t remember this being the case last year but it certainly seems to be this year. Have any of you readers found the same thing? Anyway, I decided to try an idea from the barefoot contessa to concentrate the flavors by roasting them overnight. It’s an easy recipe…preheat your oven to 450 degrees F, cut the cherry tomatoes in half, lay them cut side up on a parchment or foil covered sheet pan, sprinkle with a little salt and olive oil (my mother used to add a tiny drop of brandy). Put the sheet in the oven, turn off the heat, and leave them overnight. That’s why they are called moonlight tomatoes. It did help concentrate and sweeten the tomatoes, they were excellent stirred into scrambled eggs the next morning.

Moonlight cherry tomatoes

Moonlight cherry tomatoes

And finally, in my kitchen I always have my trusty sidekicks. Although their attention is completely self serving, they hope I will be clumsy and drop a tidbit.

Casey

Casey – are you going to share a slice of that pork with me?

Quinn

Quinn – play fair, you can’t give my sister something and not share with me!

What’s happening in your kitchen this month?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.