IN MY KITCHEN: DECEMBER 2014

Joining the virtual party that Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial started years ago, I invite you to take a walk through our kitchen this month. To see what is going on in kitchens from food bloggers all over the world, click here.

A few gifts to get this show on the road….

From the one and only MC, hostess of Farine, a newly released book, Bar Tartine

tartine

Very unique cookbook, that will certainly stretch the horizons of anyone who is up to the challenge. Make your own powders, sprouted grains, vinegar, and come up with very creative and unusual dishes. The overall gist of the book reminded me of Ottolenghi & Tamimi’s recipes.  Thank  you, MC!

From my friend Cindy, who knows very well my taste for colorful stuff, this beautiful rest for hot pans.

hotpadCindy

 

Some gifts received during our recent trip to Brazil…

From my sister and her partner in Brazil, a very special bottle of pinga (ou cachaça) a sugar cane product similar to rum.  Whereas the clear pinga is used for making capirinhas, this one, a little more yellow, is refined, barrel-aged, and best if consumed in small shots, very cold.  From the state of Minas Gerais.

pinga

From our dear friend Gabi, some more color to spice up our kitchen, in a set of four kitchen towels, one of them already in use, perfect match for our Supernova stove.

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From my niece Raquel, beautiful round place mats, very sturdy and of course, full of color, the way I like…

raquelplacemats

 

In our kitchen….

cakestand

A cake stand, kind of retro.  I found it at an antique store in a tiny town in Kansas called Cottonwood Falls. The town is just like one of those old wild west locations, frozen in time.  A cool place to visit if you ever find yourself in Kansas.

In our kitchen….

compositecake
A spatula to move cake layers. For someone who is afraid of baking cakes, I seem to get quite a few “right tools” for the job.  What can I say? This seemed very handy, and was on sale at Tuesday Morning.  It found a nice home in our cabinet, next to all my baking gadgets.

In our kitchen…

jamsJams and maple syrup brought home by the husband after a trip to Marshalls…  From left to right: Wild Maine Strawberry Jam, “regular” Strawberry Jam, Confiture de Cassis,  Red Tart Cherry Preserves, and Marionberry Jam (whatever that is… ).

In our kitchen…

acaciahoneyAcacia honey…  Forgive me local food advocates, because I sinned.  Yes, this honey got into a plane and flew all the way from Germany to the US, probably yet another flight took it from New York to Kansas City, and with luck the last leg of the trip was in a truck. I am very sorry, but I love it.

In our kitchen…

gloves

Some oven gloves in silicone, how could I resist this bright red?  Impossible. They work quite well, and I’m glad I brought them home.

In our kitchen…

bowl

This odd-looking bowl is actually super cool!  You know how every KitchenAid comes with a plastic attachment to make it easier to pour flour and other ingredients into the mixing bowl? I don’t know a single person who likes it. It is cumbersome, a pain to assemble, and doesn’t work well.  This bowl is perfect. You add all the flour into it, mix and use the pouring side to add it to the KitchenAid.  No mess, no fuss, I love it!  Plus, it’s bright red, in other words, irresistible.

In our kitchen….

trufflesalt

This salt was recommended by a friend.  It is infused with real truffles, and a little bit goes a loooong way.  Sprinkled over fresh tomatoes, scrambled eggs, french fries, it adds intense truffle flavor.

And, as usual, some furry creatures want to say hello, because our kitchen is their favorite spot to hang out…

ChiefSun

Chief, who is not too far from turning 16 years old, has been absent from our IMK posts, but this month he’s feeling better, and wanted to say that he is strong – and smart – enough to search for the spot with the brightest sun in our home.

ChiefSleeping

Of course, sleeping is still his favorite pass time, but if I am “lucky” enough to reach 110 years old, it will be the same for me!

NoGrapesOscar says: Mom, I am sorry. I begged and begged for this grape, but now I realize I don’t like it. Could you pick it up and take it away from me? It is giving me the creeps…

OskyBoy2

He also has a slight problem with the concept of the pillow, and prefers to sleep with his head hanging down from the bed.

twistingheads2

Buck finds Oscar’s behavior  totally unacceptable. A proof of intellectual inferiority, in fact.  And to demonstrate his point, he shows his ability of twisting the head at the sound of a puzzling word.  According to experts, a sign of canine intelligence.  We simply find it too cute. Want to see it in a short video?  Click here.  Please disregard the fact that he doesn’t think twice before jumping on the furniture.  We are working hard to change this behavior, and yes, we understand that giggling when that happens is totally uncalled for.

We’ve been traveling a lot, and that is pretty hard on the pups.  Just after coming back from a trip to Chicago and Brazil, we left for another 3-day trip to Houston.  Oscar is the one who suffers the most, and the look on his face as he realizes what is going on is pretty hard to take.

OskyKennel

Please, Mom, don’t take me to the kennel again!  I can stay here waiting for you and Dad…  Please?  Pretty please?

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Well, I hope you enjoyed the little virtual tour of our kitchen, the last of 2014.  It is good to finally be home and have no plans to travel for a while.  This has been one busy year for us and the pups… Celia, thanks for the work you put into your monthly In My Kitchen series!

ONE YEAR AGO: The Story of my First Creme Brulle
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TWO YEARS AGO:
 Half-a-Million Page Views!
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THREE YEARS AGO
Grilling Ribbons
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FOUR YEARS AGO:
 Peppery Cashew Crunch
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FIVE YEARS AGO:
 Ossobuco Milanese

 

IN MY KITCHEN – OCTOBER 2014

I don’t participate every month, as it gets a bit too hard to compose a new post on this subject every 4 weeks, but whenever possible, I love joining Celia’s virtual party in which bloggers all over the world invite us over to visit their kitchens. This month, I have a few gifts to smile about…

In our kitchen…

tomatoes
Gorgeous pear-shaped tomatoes, a little larger than those we can find at the grocery store.  These were planted by one of our colleagues. He kept bringing boxes, leaving them in the mail room for anyone to grab a few and enjoy.  This particular batch was still warm from the soil when we got them.

In our kitchen…

Salsa
Two huge bottles of a very special salsa, made by our friend Karl according to a family recipe from his wife, Virginia.  Want to know something super cool? Virginia was the realtor who showed and sold us our home here in Kansas. She is a retired Spanish professor from Manhattan High School, and embraced a second career as a Real State agent, which clearly was a great  move for her.  She is the best, and so is her family recipe for this killer salsa.  When we get low on those, I send a few hints to Karl.  You know, gentle hints.   I never put pressure on anyone. Nagging? Me?  Never.

In our kitchen…

ChilesAnother gift from Karl and Virginia, a can of chiles that she gets in New Mexico (they are not easy to find elsewhere), and uses for chile rellenos.  She also shared her recipe with me, and I made my first batch of this Mexican delicacy last month.  It takes practice, but I’m getting there…

In our kitchen….

MCGiftAmazing hand-made chocolates from San Francisco…  A wonderful gift from a wonderful friend, MC. I imagine lots of my readers are no strangers to Farine, her bread baking blog, but if you haven’t visited her site yet, prepare to be amazed.

In our kitchen….

IMG_5448My gift for Phil, for no special reason other than the fact that he is my favorite human being in this planet of over 7 billion people.  It is a red wine aerator, supposed to make your wine taste like a liquid concocted by angels.

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Of course, that forced us to cook a special steak dinner in which we sampled the wine on a blind tasting: one glass passed through the aerator, the other straight from the bottle.  Indeed, we both noticed a clear improvement. Once it gets through the aerator, the wine tastes much more mellow and smoother.  A nice little toy to play with.

 In our kitchen….

CreamOnTop
I found this new (to me) type of yogurt and fell in love with it.  These days it is so hard to find full-fat yogurt!  I will spare you of my thoughts on this, but it is irritating.  Anyway, this yogurt is delicious and I think it’s also available with fruit, but I am partial to plain.  I wish they sold bigger containers so I could use it for cooking, but this is better than nothing.

In our kitchen….

compositeCubes
If I remember correctly, I featured these on an IMK post years ago, because they were available in Oklahoma, and I loved them.  I went through a tough phase of withdrawal syndrome, but they finally showed up in one of our grocery stores.  I stock our freezer with these three kinds, and pop a little square in my food whenever the mood strikes.  Great, great product, I highly recommend it.  Rest assured, this post is not sponsored by Dorot. I recommend it because I love it.

In our kitchen….

GenoiseClass
Something super special:  I got a one-on-one class on genoise!!!!  From a pro, who also happens to be a friend. A virtual friend for over 10 years,  Gary spent a weekend in our town, the three of us played a lot of golf, and I got THE BEST lesson on the making of a genoise.  Stay tuned for my performance later on…   Genoise is not for sissies, my friends.  And since we are on the subject of that lesson, I shall confess my first move as a student.

BrokenEggGary wanted the eggs at room temperature, but I don’t think he expected me to smash one on the floor. Obviously,  cake baking in general and genoise in particular stresses me out.

In our kitchen…

BowlGenoise

A new, shiny bowl, that was needed for proper mixing of the genoise batter. It’s called a moon bowl.  I love it!  Beautiful and functional.

In our kitchen…

Spatulas

A heat-resistant spatula (from Vollrath), and a small offset spatula for my future genoise adventures. Gary brought these gadgets in his amazing “patisserie tool box” and I could not resist a visit to amazon.com to get these babies for the Bewitching Kitchen.

And, now it is time to let our furry friends come out and play…

BurrsHello, my name is Oscar, and last night my Mom spent 25 minutes cleaning my body of all burrs. She says I am a wuss because I whine too much and “make it impossible for her”. Anyway, this is how I came back from the backyard this morning, after spending just 5 minutes outside.  I don’t get all her weeping and gnashing of teeth. Do you?

SnakeKiller
Hello, my name is Buck and I am a professional snake killer.  On my walk the other day I noticed a small snake on the side of the street. In a nanosecond I grabbed it, flinched it very high in the air, then killed it, spreading snake blood all over Mom’s ankle.  I don’t get all her weeping and gnashing of teeth, do you?

 and now,  a couple of videos that are worth a thousand pictures…. 

Oscar has been very upset because his brother showed off the rolling over in the last In My Kitchen post.  He insists that his skills are good enough to share with the Bewitching friends…  For his amazing performance, click here.

I close this post with another short video. In one of my long walks with Buck, we go all the way to the university farms where they keep research cows.  They are adorable!  On that day they were following us in line as we walked back and forth the road.  Finally, as we decided to walk back home, I approached the gate for a chit-chat with “the ladies”.  Buck was not too interested in them, but they were very curious about that tiny four-legged creature.  You can see the video on youtube with a click here.

If you are wondering about Chief, he says hi, and hopes to be around next time. He’s been a bit too frail lately to pose for pictures. He is a trooper, though, heading steadily for his 16th Birthday.

I hope you enjoyed the little tour of our kitchen… A huge thank you to Celia for organizing it. If you want to take a peek at other blogger’s kitchens, stop by Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, and look at the side bar where she lists them all.

ONE YEAR AGO: Grilled Steelhead Trout

TWO YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

THREE YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

FOUR YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

FIVE YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

IN MY KITCHEN: AUGUST 2014

Once more I join the virtual party started by Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, sharing with you what is going on in our kitchen these days.

In our kitchen… A special gift.

SourCherries

Sour cherries from a friend’s backyard.  We went there, climbed on ladders, and came home with a nice load of freshly picked fruit.  We will share a recipe for what we did with them soon. Local food at its best!

In our kitchen…

cheese

A cute ceramic cheese platter with little chalkboards to write the names of the cheeses being served…   It was on sale at ideeli.com…  On a side note, ideeli.com is a place that offers special 24-hour sales of all sorts of unique items, from clothing to shoes.  I love their customer service, if something doesn’t fit right,  returning items is absolutely hassle-free.  Aren’t these shoes something?   Ok, forgive me for stepping out of the kitchen…

Now, back to cooking….

hamburgerpan

A special pan to bake hamburger buns, sold by King Arthur Flour.  I am not too wild about kitchen gadgets with limited purposes, but this thing is amazing.  Very high quality, sturdy, makes the size of buns I like, not gigantic, with a nice shape.  And, you can use it for many other items, like single quiche-type concoctions, pies.

 In our kitchen…

gadgets

Three items from the bargain bin at Bed Bath and Beyond…  I’ve been flirting with this large scoop for a long time, but bravely resisted until they were on sale. I used to have a silicone whisk multi-colored, but it broke last year. It was nice to replace it, even if this red one is a tad too discreet for my taste.   ;-)

 

In our kitchen…

IcecreamKeeper

A special container for ice cream.  It seems small, but it holds the exact amount of ice cream or sorbets we make in our Cuisinart. The shape is perfect to scoop out a ball of sweet frozen deliciousness such as this apricot-passion fruit sorbet made by my beloved husband. Available at amazon.com (the ice cream container, not the husband).

 

In our kitchen…

brownsugarcomposite

A box to store brown sugar. I love it!  Finally a decent way to deal with brown sugar, keeping it loose, and making it easy to scoop out the amount you need.

In our kitchen….

CoconutOil

I suppose coconut oil is a very trendy ingredient, as I see it in recipes everywhere. I decided to get a bottle and was surprised by how much I like it. Very delicate flavor.

In our kitchen….

SunbeamPaprika

The morning sun shinning through the window, surprised me with a very nice effect on a bottle of paprika left on the counter top.  It was a wonderful sight to start the day…

In our kitchen….

crackerscomposite

Snacks, a winner and a loser. The winner?  Crunchy Coated Black Edamame.  Hard to stop nibbling on those, they are spicy, salty, we love this stuff!   The loser?  Hummus crisps.  The concept seemed brilliant.  Eating those feels like punishment.  No one deserves it. Sawdust compressed into rounds would likely taste better.

 

In our kitchen…

SpinachBreading

A new take on breading for pork or chicken cutlets…  too simple to actually compose a blog about it, I  added to the food processor a little panko, a little Parmigiano cheese, and… ready for this?  Fresh spinach!  Used that to coat pork chops.  The inspiration came from Giada de Laurentiis, she used it to make baked chicken nuggets for a kids’ friendly meal.  I love the way this turned out, and intend to use it often. Plus, it’s a great way to deal with a little spinach leftover in the bag. Just a handful is all you need.

 

As usual, I close this IMK series with a message from our faithful furry friends…

 

Chief thinks Mom’s cooking is the best in the world!  Nothing like a little leftover couscous to spice up a bowl of dog food, and start my day right.

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Although it does make me a little sleepy….

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As the weather warms up, Buck is the only one of our four-legged friends who can keep up with our running and long walks. That dog is resilient, to say the least.  In one of these walks, we reached a farm where Buck made a new friend.  A big friend, curious, and surprisingly gentle.

Buck_Cow22

Oscar is not interested in long walks or getting up close and personal with bovine creatures. He thinks a much better activity is snoozing close to Mom while she exercises, then jump up at the end to give her a hug. Still a little groggy, but happy to comply.

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I wonder how many words a video is worth?  I’ve got two to share with you today. If you want to see how excited Buck gets by the perspective of going for a walk, click here.

And, you can also see him  showing off his abilities as he learns a new trick.  (You may have to increase the volume a little for this one). Not bad for a rescued dog who was abused for 5 long  years, don’t you think?

compositeWell, friends… it’s time to say goodbye.  
It’s been so hot outside, what we really love the most is just chillin’ out with mom.
See you next time!

 

If you want to see kitchens from other food bloggers, or add your own post to this great virtual party, visit Celia’s site by clicking here.

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Jerusalem: Pasta with Yogurt, Peas, and Chile

TWO YEARS AGO: Edamame Hummus in Cucumber Bites

THREE YEARS AGO:  Headed to Brazil!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Twice-Baked Goat Cheese Souffle

FIVE YEARS AGO: Golly Moses: She’s  a Muffin!

IN MY KITCHEN: JUNE 2014

It is now time to join Celia’s great blog party, her In My Kitchen series, in which bloggers all over the world offer a little peek into their favorite room in the house.  I like to start with gifts, so here they are.

From our dear friend SL, two bags of paprika brought from Slovakia.  You cannot imagine how strong they smell, they put any of the stuff we can buy here in the US into shame.  He gave me two kinds, one sweet, one hot.  Oh, yeah….

paprikacomposite11

 

Same friend, another super special gift brought from his recent visit to Saudi Arabia (yes, he got me saffron too).  Vacuum-packed dates, absolutely amazing! He also offered a very nice recipe to put these dates to good use. I’ve been very protective of this bag, so that I don’t find it almost empty when I’m ready to bake.

datescomposite

From friends back in Oklahoma, a nice ceramic bottle to “freeze” vodka.  A gift they brought all the way from Ukraine for us. It lives in the freezer, holding your favorite brand of vodka.  When you feel like having a shot, grab the bottle and bring it to play.  I don’t do the vodka shot thing, but vodka lovers will appreciate how long this bottle keeps it at the proper temperature.

VodkaBottle

From Cindy, who has given me countless cooking-related gifts, one more for the collection: chestnut flour!  She found it at a market in Dallas, and was super kind to grab a bag for me. The order of the universe is now restored. No more shortage of this unique ingredient. Thank you, Cindy!

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Finally, from Phil, two bottles of beautiful pearls of sugar, I guess that means he would like to have some cupcakes in the near future?   ;-)

Pearls

In our kitchen….

A small colander I bought on impulse at the grocery store, in a sale special with each item for a buck or so.  I fell in love with the vibrant coral color, so I brought it home.  Now I cannot live without it, it is perfect to drain cans of beans, chickpeas, rinse berries, that sort of stuff.

Colandercomposite
In our kitchen…

Something I’ve been craving for ages!  I wanted to have salt and ground pepper ready to grab with a teaspoon or my fingers.  Searched left and right for the perfect size, but nothing seemed to fit my dreams, until I found these on Paula’s shop at Etsy (Paulova Ceramics).  You can custom order them in several different colors.  Paula shipped them from Portland quite quickly, by the way.  Just keep in mind that the base doesn’t come with it, mine was a support for some plastic containers. I am still amazed at how well they matched those bowls.   As if they were made for that purpose!

SaltPepperEtsy

In our kitchen…

A spoon rest, found at Bed Bath and Beyond… I think it is a good match for the salt and pepper bowls…  It works double duty as a place to rest a couple of eggs waiting to be scrambled, avoiding the dangers of them falling off the countertop cliff.  Yes, that happened in a distant past. The experience was traumatic, to put it mildly.

CompositeSpoonRest

 

In our kitchen….

A huge plastic box to finally add some sense of organization to the flours I bring home. It lives in our freezer in the garage.The list of flours go not only on the top of the box, but is also stored in my iPhone.  The goal? To prevent me from buying yet another bag of spelt flour, when two are sitting at home.  (sigh)

FlourBoxcomposite

In our kitchen…

The pantry received some more special attention, it is not easy to see in the photo, but some clear plastic boxes are now holding items that belong together (baking stuff, dried fruits, extracts, etc).

Pantry1

Still on the pantry subject, you win some, you lose some.  I saw a tip on Food Network and jumped on the idea like Buck jumps on a snake (side note: last year he killed 8 snakes in our backyard, this year the first casualty happened a few days ago, he is incredibly fast!).  Anyway, the tip was to buy plastic magazine holders like you see in the photo, and use them to store canned stuff, laying on their sides.  Unable to find them anywhere, I went to amazon.com, but the ones I got were too narrow for that purpose. Bummer!  At least they were very cheap, and are now holding…. cooking magazines!   ;-)

rack1-side

I was forced to put Plan B in action: soda can containers for the fridge from Bed Bath & Beyond.  More expensive than the magazine holders, but at least they sort of worked.  Not ideal, though. I would like some type of storage in which the cans would be easier to see. Of course, I am vertically challenged, and that adds complexity to this crucial issue.

PantryCans

 

 In our kitchen….

We love these crackers, from Doctor Kracker.  One of our former graduate students got us hooked on them (thanks, Chuck!).  They are crunchy, with the right amount of seeds and nuts without making you feel like an oversized parrot.  Truly delicious with cheese, with hummus, or naked. The crackers. Don’t be naughty…

crackercomposite

In our kitchen….

Another impulse buy from Bed Bath and Beyond.  In my defense, it was on sale. Again in my defense, it had a photo of Ming Tsai on the box.  He endorsed this knife, saying it never needs sharpening, and no food will stick to it. Perfect for tomatoes and cheese.  Passed my test.  Ming would never lie to one of his most loyal admirers. HA!

MingTsaiKnife

In our kitchen….

Saved the best for last…. drum roll please…. intense drum roll….

A sous-vide gadget from ANOVA!!!!

AnovaBox
This is the new toy in its inaugural use…  All you need is a tall saucepan that can hold the gadget on its side.  Anova will keep the water in constant circulation, at the perfect temperature you set it to.  Of course, the size of your pan limits the amount of stuff you can cook under sous-vide.  But any container that is heat-safe and food-safe will work.  I have a huge plastic bin that can be used for larger cuts of meat.  Stay tuned for my first recipe using Anova… Anova, Supernova, our kitchen is at the cutting edge!

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Because I do my nails on the kitchen island, I feel it’s totally appropriate to talk manicure, and introduce a new kid on the block, a holographic nail polish (you cannot go wrong with that, obviously).  Anyway, the color changes quite dramatically depending on the ambient light, pretty cool.  I might have to investigate other colors, you know, just for the sake of scientific experimentation.

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(click to enlarge)

I almost closed this post without canine appearances, but the pups threatened to go on a good-behavior strike.  So I reconsidered my decision, and invited them in…

Chief has been very tired these past weeks…
He says hello from his dreams, his ball keeping him company…

ChiefSleeping

 

Buck playing his favorite game: You eat, I stare. 
I won’t move. I won’t blink.  

BuckStare

 

A small dog with a hearty appetite, he shares another one of his many 
food obsessions…

CompositeSushi

 

Oscar’s ego is a bit inflated since he was featured all by himself in a recent post. Maybe that’s why he took a few liberties and jumped on the sofa as I was trying to take his picture. The superstar is partial to close-ups now.

Osky2

 

Oscar might think he is a superstar, but “I” am the only one who goes running with Mom & Dad. Whenever she sits down to put those funny looking shoes, I glue to her.
Ready, Mom? Let’s GO!

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I don’ t run. I get pampered. Only special dogs get the Kansas-Summer-Shave.

Are we jealous already?

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Jealous?  You must be kidding me!  You go ahead and stay laying on comfy carpets, I rather go golfing with Mom and Dad.  Who is special now?

BuckGolf2

Ok, let’s admit it. We are both equally spoiled. 

Sunning

Hope to see you soon, folks! Until next time we leave you with Mom’s regular blogging…

 

ONE YEAR AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

TWO YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

THREE YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

FOUR YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls

IN MY KITCHEN – APRIL 2014

My dear virtual friend and blogger extraordinaire Celia started the series In My Kitchen years ago, and I try to participate as often as possible, because it’s so much fun!  Due to the increasing popularity of the event, participants now have to publish their posts before the 10th day of each month, so I hope I can still squeeze this post in her April’s round-up…

In our kitchen…

GIFTS!

CindyJars

From my friend Cindy, who evidently knows me very well, a collection of gifts in one of my favorite colors, shocking red!  Aren’t these containers super cool?  And how about the baking paper cups?

SauceDressing11The containers in action…  on top, yogurt-saffron sauce for some Pomegranate Gelee, and on the lower jar, a Cilantro-vinaigrette ready and waiting…  Life is good!

If that was not red enough, Cindy also gave me a bag of French-style flour, with a bright red label on it!  I am going to use it in some very special bread, still trying to choose the perfect recipe to showcase my gift!

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From Phil, a surprise gift he managed to sneak in the luggage while we were in Paris.  A cookbook from Christian Constant, the chef behind several great restaurants in the 7th arrondisement of Paris, including Les Cocottes de Constant, literally three steps from our hotel. He gave me the book after we arrived home, it was nice to have a souvenir from our short week in the City of Lights.  I might as well include a couple of photos of our dinner at Les Cocottes.

compositeWe both ordered the “cocotte du jour“, which happened to be a chicken with potatoes.  Delicious! But the best was probably the dessert we shared, “La Fabuleuse Tarte au Chocolat de Constant“. Outstanding. We learned from the waiter that one of Constant’s cookbooks for sale at the restaurant (and that I would later receive as a gift) has a recipe for tarte au chocolat, but guess what? The recipe in the book is NOT the same used for “La Fabuleuse” we enjoyed that evening. Constant tweaked that recipe up.  Oh, well…  better know the truth than be disappointed. Non?   :-)
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In our kitchen….

A gift from last Christmas that somehow escaped my previous IMK post.

Coffee

This is a container to hold the waste from espresso machines.  It works very well, you just bang the espresso thingie holder against the central bar, and the used coffee drops in the container.  Plus, the fact that it is black makes it look less messy. Before having it,  we accumulated our coffee waste in an empty yogurt plastic tub until we had enough to dispose in the compost pile.  Let’s say it was not a beautiful sight.  ;-)    If you are interested, amazon.com carries it.   Ours was a gift from one of Phil’s sons.

 In our kitchen..

A few things we brought from Paris…

CompositeMac

(click to enlarge)

Macarons… I fell hopelessly in love with the caramel fleur de sel… oh, my…  but we brought a small assortment of flavors like coffee, chocolate, blackberries, pistachios, raspberries… I am now obsessed with making macarons at home.  Seems like a very brave project to attempt.  Not sure I am up to the challenge, especially after reading a recent post  from Joanne, in which she mentions that her first batch didn’t meet the expectations.  She is an amazing baker, so… doing my own personal math, I am not optimistic (sigh).

Terrine

Terrine of duck with green peppercorns… no, not foie gras, we went a little more wallet-friendly.  This is waiting for a good opportunity to come out and play, possibly in a future dinner party.

 

Chestnut
A bag of chestnut flour, bought near our hotel in France, following the suggestion of Farine, the Bread Baking Queen of All Queens…  As a sneak preview to my readers, my first adventure with this unique flour.  Stay tuned for a full blog about it.

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Free advice: when you place the proofed loaves in the oven, avoid turning the empty banneton over your countertop.  It can get a little messy, and you might need some help cleaning it up…   ;-)

 

Napkins

Some paper napkins from Paris with a drawing of our beloved Eiffel Tower… a bit cheesy, maybe, but I love it! Look at all those red dots, I could not leave them behind…

 

 In our kitchen….

StretchTite

No, I am not completely crazy and obsessed with plastic wraps, but this is it.  No more.  This dispenser is so cool that I probably wasted a couple of meters just rolling out, cutting and aahhing and ooohing… Awesome. If you want to order it, click here. Best gadget ever.  Ever. I am naming it Neo. You know, The One.

 

Because life is not only about food, allow me to share two passions of mine…

Nail polish…

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and bar soaps…

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Love them. Cannot resist trying – daring?  ;-) – a new color of nail polish, or bringing a new bar soap home.  Every time we go to Brazil I get some of my favorites,  nothing fancy, stuff that you can buy at the grocery store. But, they have so many fragrances available: passion fruit, mint, lemon, honey, orchid, jasmine… In the US, I often get scented soaps at stores like Ross.

Back to nail polish for a second, a tip for the ladies who do their own manicure: get a product called “Seche Vite“.  I like to do my nails mid-week very early in the morning, right before leaving to work. Plus, once in the lab I often have to put gloves on, so Seche Vite is a life saver.  The nail polish dries in 5 minutes tops. If you cannot find it in a beauty store in your town,  amazon.com is your best friend.  ;-)

As usual, I close this post with messages from our pets. They are always anxious to share some of what is happening in their lives…

Chief was a bit unsure about cleaning the mess Mom made in the kitchen while preparing her chestnut sourdough bread… his short-term memory is a bit shot, but he still remembers the scalding he and his late brother got in the past….

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Oscar won’t have anything to do with flour, he rather steal kisses from his Mom. She better move fast, or else a dog French kiss will be on its way!

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Oscar and Buck react to some of their favorite words in the English language…
Buck’s ear goes as high as it can possibly go before he goes crazy running in circles…

 

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ShamelessWell, my friends, I am pooped. That walk with Mom did it.  I am chillin’ out, and saying goodbye for now….  Hope you enjoyed Mom’s tour of our kitchen!

ONE YEAR AGO: Whole-Wheat Pasta with Lemony Tomatoes and Spinach

TWO YEARS AGO: Blood Orange Duck: A work in progress

THREE YEARS AGO: Grilled Mahi-mahi with citrus marinade

FOUR YEARS AGO: Memories of Pastéis (and my Dad)

IN MY KITCHEN – MARCH 2014

Once again I am joining the fun virtual party initiated by Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, and sharing with my readers what is going on in our kitchen.  Normally I like to start with gifts, and this month won’t be an exception, although these are gifts I gave Phil. Two beautiful wood cutting boards, real works of art made by Michael’s Woodcraft.  I only ordered one, but Michael included the round one for free. Every month he picks one order to receive a freebie, and what can I say? I was the lucky customer in January 2014.

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We put them to use right away, to enjoy some nice cheeses in style! Now, would you believe that he made this exact cutting board for Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa?  So our kitchen and Ina’s have a special something in common…

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What I love the most about these boards is how I learned about them. One day I noticed that a blogger from WordPress liked one of my posts, and decided to follow the link to his site.  This was the first thing I read when I landed there:

My name is Michael and I live in the remote upstate mountains of South Carolina. I love working with wood but I also enjoy cooking, grilling, baking, hiking, camping, gardening, mountain wildlife and bird watching. On my site you will find my woodwork and my blog. I hope you find my blog interesting and will visit often.

Well, not only his blog is interesting, but he is an AMAZING woodworker! I was thrilled to find his site, and immediately decided that a cutting board would make a nice surprise for Phil as a Valentine’s gift. He loved them! One of Phil’s hobbies is woodworking, and he even made a cutting board for us a few years ago, so he understands very well the skills needed to come up with pieces of such quality.  Michael also includes a sample of his wood conditioner so that his masterpieces can stay beautiful for a long, long time.  You can read all about that product here.

In our kitchen…

A couple of gifts from my sister-in-law who lives in Michigan…
vinegarsProducts from il Fustino. One is a pomegranate vinegar, which I have not yet tried, and the other a fig balsamic, absolutely wonderful!  Thank you, Kathy!

In our kitchen…

photo(4)The only plastic wrap we like is Kirkland, however the box always gets messed up and let’s say it is a source of boring lectures from Sally concerning how one should properly use the built-in metal blade so that the plastic roll is kept in perfect shape.  This colorful box, from ChicWrap originally comes with a lousy type of wrap inside, but I use it to store the Kirkland instead.  Glad to report that our marriage is getting happier and happier.

In our kitchen…

stocksPretty nice quality stocks sold by “The Spice House”. Last month they had a free shipping special for orders over $25. and I decided it was a good idea to profit from it. I know that a food blogger should be making her/his own beef and chicken stocks, but I must pick my battles these days.  Having this type of store-bought item available is a great help. When I open the box,  either I make the full amount of stock and freeze in portions, or I make what I need, and portion small teaspoons that can be frozen and used later.  Labeling is a must, or you will be very puzzled one day staring at a marble-sized copper-colored thingie and trying to guess how it landed in your freezer. Advice is free, and I just gave you a good one…   ;-)

In our kitchen…

BakedA nice little roasting pan with an insert inside, perfect to bake meatballs or anything that profits from heat circulating around all sides.  I got it at Bed Bath and Beyond, one of my favorite spots to find these gems. Recipe for meatballs coming soon, by the way. They do have an unusual ingredient that made them quite special.

In our kitchen…

cookieYou win some, you lose some. I thought this little cookie scoop would be a nice gadget to have, as it grabs a defined amount of dough and then you simply release it on the baking sheet by pressing the flexible purple part.  Good in theory, messy and cumbersome in practice.  I ended up using a normal spoon and my hands, like in the good old times.

In our kitchen….

ricethinsA favorite cracker these days.  Rice and sesame, they are light, and have this interesting smoky flavor, not quite sure where it comes from, maybe the sesame seeds when they get baked? They pair with hummus as well as Romeo did with Juliet.

In our kitchen…

tequila1Casamigos, a special tequila, endorsed by the one and only George Clooney.  That puts him and my beloved in the same special category:  very attractive men who appreciate a good tequila.  Phil says it’s very smooth, with excellent, clean flavor.

In our kitchen…

pankoA nice twist on Panko bread crumbs, with chipotle-lime flavor.

porkchopsIt made some mighty flavorful pork chops.  The chipotle level is just right, and the lime seals the deal for me, although I still squirted some fresh lemon juice all over them.  

In our kitchen…

Pizza1A nice pizza made with my default pizza dough, and with a slightly Greek-oriented flavor: sautéed spinach and leeks, over a simple tomato sauce, some fresh mozzarella and a little crowning with feta cheese…  Perfect!

Not exactly in my kitchen, but in my office, a special photo for Celia, who loves umbrellas. Here is mine, perfect antidote for a gray and rainy day… ;-)

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and now, time for a message from our four-legged friends…

I know I melt Mom’s heart when I twist my head as she asks:
“Would you like a cookie?”

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We actually tried to trick Buck, giving him something we never expected a dog to be interested in. We were wrong.  He grabbed it and would not let it go… I was holding a raw sugar snap pea. He thought he had died and gone to canine heaven! Ate the whole thing and came back searching for more.

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Oscar says he is clearly Mom and Dad’s favorite.  Not only he’s got plenty of style and elegance…
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But no other dog has a nose that matches Mom’s favorite color so well. A purple nose, that’s not something to sniff at… ;-)

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Buck will have nothing to do with it.  In fact, the only thing he wants to do with his brother’s purple nose is to photobomb it.

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Chief is tired of so much silliness, his sight is not that great, his hearing even worse,  but his sniffer works like that of a basset hound.  He knows there’s something up in the island that absolutely needs to come down… and it usually does…

IMG_3754And life goes on in the Bewitching Kitchen…

I hope you enjoyed this little virtual tour, and stop by Celia’s site to visit other kitchens around the blogosphere.

ONE YEAR AGO: The Blogger and the Shrink

TWO YEARS AGO: The Wheat-Berry Transmogrification

THREE YEARS AGO: Curried Zucchini Soup

FOUR YEARS AGO: Roasted Onion and Asiago Cheese Miche

IN MY KITCHEN: JANUARY 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! 

May 2014 bring a ton of happiness for you and all your loved ones!
If you like to set goals for yourself, try to make them realistic, so they won’t turn into a personal ordeal. Remember to enjoy the ride!

I thought a great way to start 2014 would be by joining the virtual party initiated by Celia many moons ago: her “In My Kitchen” series.  Stop by her site to see what other bloggers are sharing from their own kitchens.

In our kitchen….

Many gifts to start this virtual tour…

FoodProcessorA Cuisinart mini-food processor, great gift from a couple of colleagues at  KSU.  Works like a charm, and is powerful enough to grind nuts and spices into a nice paste.  Love it!

PepperGrinderA new pepper grinder, gift from one of my stepsons, I’ve been struggling with our old pepper grinder for 14 years, it’s one very temperamental gadget! This one, from Williams-Sonoma is stylish and functional,  I can change the coarseness with a simple twist.

AmericanCupA special cup for hot or cold liquids that my stepson gave me to celebrate my 20 years away from Brazil. Love it! Oscar takes a nap in the background, dreaming with chubby squirrels.
PearsIn our kitchen… A box of ultra special pears from Harry & David, sent from our dear friends and former neighbors from Oklahoma. They are by far the best pears I’ve ever had, juicy, and sweet.   I even used them in a special salad, a recipe that will be on the blog soon.  Stay tuned!
BrevilleIn our kitchen…. My gift to Phil for Christmas and his Birthday (12/27)… a sexy-red Breville espresso maker. Of course, it matches our Supernova stove, and brightens up our mornings!

In our kitchen.. a labor of love from my super-skillful partner…  It all started with these: a box of wine corks saved for years and years + a sheet of plywood.

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For our home in Oklahoma, Phil made a wine cork board many years ago. He was just waiting for the kitchen hellnovation to be over to build a new one here,  bringing to our new kitchen something we missed from the old home.   My stepson was visiting us and  helped with the final installation.

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Can you figure out what his design represents?  I can tell you it is very clever…
Cork Board


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In our kitchen…. Black Volcanic Salt from Hawaii…  ever since I bought the new book by Anne Burrell and saw a recipe using this salt, I wanted to try it.  It has a smoky taste on top of the salty flavor.  Love it!  Plus it looks gorgeous sprinkled over certain foods like asparagus and sea scallops.

CitrusOlivesIn our kitchen... Citrus-Stuffed Olives.  These are amazing!  I almost passed them by at the grocery store, but one thing I’ve learned living here is that the products labeled as ‘Private Selection” from Krogers are not to be ignored.

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In our kitchen… Little glass vials that are perfect to store those loose spices sold in bags.  Like the gift from my friend Gabi, a spice mix from Brazil… and some other goodies I had laying around the pantry in a less than ideal “living situation”.

compositechipsIn our kitchen… tapioca chips, something I had never heard of, found them in the great Asian market in town.  They are less greasy than potato chips, with a  slightly harder texture.  They are made from cassava (manioc) flour.  A product from India. I wonder if they are available in Brazil, since manioc products are so popular back home.

compositeCopcoIn our kitchen…  a great find by yours truly, on ebay.  Have you heard of a Le Creuset-like product from Denmark called Copco?  Well, these are not made anymore, they are vintage items that you can only find in auctions like ebay, or garage sales.  Their design is super-stylish and the quality of the enamel cast iron supposed to be superior to Le Creuset.  After patiently stalking many of these babies on ebay and watching them sell for small fortunes, I managed to snag this little baby for less than 40 bucks.   I was happy, happy, happy….

OatNoodlesCan you detect an impulse buy when you see it? I have no idea how to cook them (no instructions in the bag or online), or what they taste like. But they were too interesting to leave behind. Another fascinating product found at the Asian Market. They are packaged like soba noodles, but are made from oat flour. I am intrigued.

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And now, it’s time for a message from our four-legged friends….

ChiefBedChief is very happy with his new bed. It is fluffy, a lot more comfortable to rest his tired bones. Two paws up! Well, four paws down, actually. Blissfully down.

LordBuck2Buck believes that elegance and poise will bring good fortune. He is also versed in Geometry & Statistics, and knows how to position his body on the spot with the highest probability of “food-fall”.

compositeOskyOscar was completely in love with his new friend, and wishes he would still be around to play with him. It’s ok, Osky, we all miss him! Let’s hope he will come back soon…  In the meantime, Oscar will have to settle for another of his favorite activities: making sure Mom is ok after her workouts. That Tony Horton guy is one mean master!

OskyGym
I hope you enjoyed this little tour around our kitchen and home! Make sure to stop by Celia’s spot – Fig Jam and Lime Cordial - to visit other kitchens around the blogosphere.

I would like to close this post with a message for the New Year, a text written by Neil Gaiman. I love it, and thank Rosa for sharing it on Facebook.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

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ONE YEAR AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

TWO YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

THREE YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye