In My Kitchen is a fun virtual event conceived by Celia, the hostess of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, a great food blog that goes beyond food and recipes. Way beyond. I’ve been a follower for a long time…  So what’s it all about? Bloggers from all over the world compose a post about what’s going on in their kitchens.  It is a monthly event, but I usually participate every 2 or 3 months.  I like to start talking about gifts, and here they are…

From a sweet couple, Virginia and Karl…. the sweetest of gifts!


I have a special project in my mind for this dulce de leche… a little involved and challenging, but maybe I can Zen myself into it.

From our friends from California, Deb and Jeff….


A beautifully wrapped gift, that once opened, revealed a gourmet item they bought in a recent trip to Portugal, home of my ancestors. Quite often sardines are packed in oil, these come with a perfectly smooth and delicious tomato base.

From our niece Carla…


Two tiny cute bottles of very special pepper, produced by Xingu indians from the North of Brazil. Red and white pepper, not too hot, but intensely flavored.  I was afraid the bottles would break in the plane, but they arrived in perfect condition…

From our niece Raquel…


A perfect little wooden board for our kitchen! I am sure it will help me during times of cake-baking…


In our kitchen….

green tomatoes
Green tomatoes harvested before the first frost (sad couple of words), now waiting in the kitchen, some might end up nicely red, but all will find their way into our meals one way or another…

In our kitchen….

Our latest addiction… mint tea!  This addiction started with a tip from our dear friend Denise who lives in England. If you feel any type of digestive discomfort after a meal, sip a cup of mint tea. It is almost magical, quite amazing how soothing it is…  Thank you, Denise!

In our kitchen…


A set of pinch bowls… I’ve always flirted with this type of small bowls that are often lined up in cooking shows and fancy cookbooks photos. They were on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond, and I brought them home. Take a look at how cute they look “in action.” Ingredients for a black pepper chicken curry, to be blogged about in the very near future. I promise.


In our kitchen…

sprinklesA bottle of shockingly pink sprinkles…  for a special recipe that was part of our Halloween party. Stay tuned…

In our kitchen…


Melting wafers to use for coating candy type concoctions.  Also used in a recipe for our Halloween party.  It was scary good…

In our kitchen….


Something very special brought by a friend from India to our Halloween party. These are banana chips, slightly salty and absolutely addictive!  Unfortunately they are not available in the US, they brought them from India just two days prior to our get together. Sad to inform that they are gone…  (sigh)

In our kitchen….


A coffee cup with my favorite actress of the past, Audrey Hepburn. If that doesn’t take your cappuccino to Tiffany’s level, nothing will…

In our kitchen…


Several bottles of Brazilian pinga (sugar cane distillate) brought from Brazil during our recent trip. Actually the second bottle to the left (Nega Fulô) we’ve had since the trip in 2014.  We could not find it this time, but brought a few bottles from different regions of the country. Caipirinhas, anyone?

In our kitchen…


Phil is always finding interesting jams and preserves to pump up his lunch.  Sour Cherry Preserves from Casa Giulia are on top of his favorites list right now.  He loves to take a Wasa bread or a nice cracker, spread peanut butter on top, add a smear of sour cherry preserves, and top it all with peanuts. Keeps him satisfied until dinner time.

Speaking of lunch: apparently, I am not always as lucky with my own preparations… Allow me to share. Apologies in advance…


A culinary disaster of epic proportions…  The monstrosity above was intended to be a spaghetti squash fritter nesting a sunny-side egg. The recipe is from a very reputable food blog, but the photo and description of its deliciousness on that site have little to do with my outcome.  Granted, I made it at lunch time in a complete hurry, but… don’t try this at home, folks. It was probably one of the worst things I’ve ever made, tasted almost as funky as it looked.  I posted it on my Facebook page and one of my friends remarked that it looked like a bird getting ready to fly. Too bad it did not fly away for real.  Oh, well… Keep calm, and go on cooking…


And now, it’s time to let our furry friends say hello.


Chief will be exactly 16 years and 9 months old when this post goes live. He still sleeps a lot, perhaps most of the time, either on his comfy soft bed or sometimes outside in some type of improvised bed designed by his brothers. He used to dig tunnels underneath fences and show up yards away on the other side, but cannot dig anymore with his weak arthritic legs. Clearly, his instinct to get comfy is unchanged by aging.


Hi, my name is Osky, and I made my Mom late for work because after five minutes outside I came back covered in burrs.  Mom says I am a big whiner and a sissy because of my crying as she cleaned me. She also said the neighbors would call the police thinking someone was being murdered in our home.  I agree with my Dad, Mom is the real Drama Queen around here.


What do you mean, GET OFF THE COUCH???? I am not sure I get it…  wanna play fetch?

Osky would never leave his brother sin by himself… the moment Dad went to the lab on a Saturday morning, he found his way into his favorite armchair… Obviously, Mom made him jump off after she took the picture. “No dogs on furniture” is a tightly enforced rule. Obviously.

Before I say goodbye, here is a video showing the pure joy of  Oscar and Buck when we finally picked them up from the kennel, after 16 long days away… Chief can be heard furiously barking in the background, as he knew we were there and wanted to come out too…

That’s all for now, folks!  Until next time, 


ONE YEAR AGO: Helen Fletcher’s Oatmeal Cookies

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, November 2013

THREE YEARS AGO: The Lab Move and New Beginnings

FOUR YEARS AGO: Honey-Oat Pain de Mie

FIVE YEARS AGO: Carrot and Leek Soup

SIX YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana 101


Here I am to invite my readers for a virtual tour of our kitchen, following the party started by Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial many years ago.  It is such a fun series of posts, lots of bloggers (including Celia herself) participate every single month, which I find quite amazing. I am more of a “every couple of months” kind of person. I like to start my tour with gifts, and I’ve got a few to show you…

From our friend Cindy, who came to visit and make macarons in the Bewitching Kitchen….  Yes, French macarons, which shall be on the blog soon. In fact, we had a great cooking weekend, with a surprise tour through Brazilian cooking. Stay tuned!


Cindy brought us three types of artisan chocolates from a small company in Nashville…  My favorite was the Salt & Pepper Buttermilk White, different from anything I’ve ever tasted, sweet and tangy, absolutely delicious. Phil’s favorite was the one with coffee bean, although we both also loved the chili and cinnamon. Coffee and chocolate. Cannot get much better than that, right? Thank you, Cindy, not only for the chocolates, but for driving all the way to The Little Apple to cook with me…

From Kristy (who blogs over at Eat, Play, Love), who came with her whole family for a short but fun visit on their way to Colorado…


A cutting board with a knife-friendly surface and beautiful design of olive branches… It is so beautiful, I have a hard time using it as a cutting board. Instead I place cheeses on top of it, for a stunning look. August was super busy in our kitchen, with so many distinguished guests!  I am sure most of my readers know Kristy’s blog and have seen her beautiful family cooking together. You absolutely MUST read their series of Chopped in which the girls compete against the boys. We had a blast with them, made small pizzas on the grill, and a breakfast of blueberry pancakes next morning before their departure.


Mr. N, Miss A, and their proud Daddy after breakfast. And here we are in the photo below, with Kristy and I in exercise clothes, because I asked her to help me out with the infamous Crane Pose which has eluded me for over 6 years.  One day I’ll get there. One day… (sigh). By the way, Miss A can do pull-ups in the bar like nobody’s business!  Very impressive! And she goes from Crane Pose to head stand as if it’s a natural movement for human beings. Don’t try that at home, folks…

BackyardShotPlease disregard my oddly twisted leg position. Not sure what happened there. Must have been something wrong with the alignment of the stars..

On with with the gifts…

From one of our graduate students….


The most amazing black caviar!  His Mom came for a visit and brought it from a special store in Pennsylvania where she lives. Phil and I shared it, fighting over the last bit. I made bread for the occasion. This stuff is pure gold. Black gold…  So smooth and mild!

From Phil, a surprise gift…


This cup was made by a British artist called Mary Rose Young. Years ago I found two matching cups at a Pier 1 store and brought them home. They became our special cups for the weekend cappuccino. Sure enough, yours truly, the one with fast careless fingers, broke one of them. Major bummer.  I searched everywhere for a replacement, with no luck.  One day Phil gets something in the mail and much to my amazement it was one of Mary Rose’s cups. He managed to find it on ebay.  He is the ultimate ebay-detective…  Ok, they are not matchy-matchy, but close enough. In fact, I think they make a beautiful pair… Compatible but unique, each in their own colorful way. I love her work!  You can check her pottery with a click here.


In our kitchen….


A new, kind of fancy  bread toy for me…  After reading rave reviews about it on a discussion group for artisan bread baking, I had one of those attacks of impulse buy and got this bread cloche at  The lure of Amazon Prime free shipping is hard to resist, particularly for an item that is so heavy. I love the red color, but that probably goes without saying…  ;-)

In our kitchen….


My first production using the bread cloche.  I made one of the recipes that came with it, a Black Olive Rosemary Rye Bread.  Simple formula, commercial yeast.  Perfect to cut in small squares, toast, and enjoy with that tasty caviar as you maybe noticed in the caviar photo above.

In our kitchen….


We are not brave enough to make sushi at home, it’s something we reserve for eating out, but whenever Phil finds great quality salmon for sale, he plays sushi-chef and we pretend we are in Tokyo.

In our kitchen….


This was one tricky ingredient to find.  I needed to use in a particular recipe that shall be blogged about soon. 99% of what you find in stores contains seeds, and it is more like a jam, not preserves. I was about to give up and order online, but finally found this gem at our town’s Hy-Vee.

In our kitchen….


We are quite fond of Wasa bread, but this type quickly became my favorite. Not easy to find, so whenever I spot it at the store, I grab a couple of boxes.  Light, crispy, great flavor, much milder than all other Wasa versions.

In our kitchen….


Small containers of chicken and vegetable broth.  I like the fact that they hold just 8oz, so for many recipes that’s all you’ll need. Open, use, call it a day. I must say though, that I get into intense eye-rolling mode every time I see the term “bone broth”, as if Paleo-afficionados “invented” it.  What’s wrong with calling them beef stock, or chicken stock like every single cook has done for decades? Noooo, let’s pretend it’s a totally different entity (triple sigh).

In our kitchen….


These are very small, appetizer type plates, I found them at Marshall’s.  They have a nice pattern and of course the bright yellow is impossible to resist…

In our kitchen….

FarmersMarketSmall tomatoes from the farmer’s market, yellow and red, juicy and sweet….

In our kitchen….
Drum roll please, these are FROM OUR BACKYARD!


I can hardly believe these tomatoes are from our own garden!  Thanks to Phil, who brought 4 small plants home in early June, and patiently took care of them.  I stayed as far away as possible to avoid doing them any harm. Aren’t they gorgeous?  And we also got great results with Serrano peppers…


And now, let’s hear it from the three furry friends who keep the Bewitching Kitchen (and its surroundings) as a very lively place… Well, maybe not always lively, as you can see in these shots.



Mom and Dad went for a trip to this strange place called Colorado and off to the kennel we went. It took forever, but one day they showed up and finally brought us back home. There is nothing better than a nice snooze in our comfy beds to celebrate life coming back to normal.   You can bet we are having wonderful dreams!


Now, of course,  our brother Oscar has his own interpretation of what a nice sleep involves.
We think he is a bit nuts.


You may think I’m nuts, but “I” am the Chosen One, the One Who Bonds with Daddy. So there!


Well, “I” am bonding with my Mom, even if it seems I’m asleep…
Note from Mom: this was really quite sweet.  I had to work from home one morning a couple of  weeks ago, and Buck’s routine was all changed. Instead of being outside with Oscar, he stayed in. The Real Chosen One, I suppose…  He had no problem adjusting to the change. Laid by my side and snored away happily for more than one hour!


Ok, I admit it. I’m not really bonding in this shot.
I am more photobombing, a skill I’ve been perfecting for years now.

Buck 1 x 0 Daddy, the photographer.

And to close this post, a couple of videos.

First we have Buck and his absolute passion for the hose and anything to do with water.  I would like you to notice in the background of the video, at the lower level of the backyard, a doghouse.  More on that after the video.

Anyway, while Buck is having all that fun, Oscar simply cannot get far enough from the action. He absolutely despises water, hoses, baths. Once the hose is shutdown, he peeks out, as if saying “is it safe to come out now?”  Priceless….


But he has his chance to get excited too. Twice a week we go jogging before lunch. The dogs somehow realize  it is “the day”, and start going nuts even before I do anything like changing into my running outfit or grabbing their leashes. I believe they do read minds, you know?

Well, that’s all for now, folks!  I hope you enjoyed the little tour of our kitchen, and please stop by Celia’s blog where you can get a virtual tour of many kitchens around the world…   See you next time!

ONE YEAR AGO: Sour Cherry Sorbet: A Labor of Love

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen – September 2013

THREE YEARS AGO: Raspberry Sorbet at Summer’s End

FOUR YEARS AGO: When three is better than two  (four years with Buck!)

FIVE YEARS AGO: Grating Tomatoes (and loving it!)

SIX YEARS AGO: A Peachy Salad for a Sunny Day


Once again it’s time to invite you for a tour of our kitchen, joining the great virtual event created by Celia, fantastic baker, superb cook, who blogs over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.   As I normally like to do, let me start with gifts…

From a very dear friend, a fantastic Rolls-Royce of a pan: an All-Clad skillet that does a superb job in many tasks, browning chicken pieces, sauteing mushrooms, making one of my regular types of lunches, sautéed ground beef or turkey with veggies (carrots, celery, zucchini). I use it several times per week, with a big smile each time.

AllClad1 allcladaction
From one of our departmental colleagues, the best gardener in Manhattan, KS, a huge batch of fresh dill… All portioned and frozen, amazing how well it freezes, we still had some from last year.

From our dear friend Cindy who came to visit last month, dried Barberries…. they have a very unique taste, and will be put to good use in a recipe I’ve had in my files for a long time

From our friend Steve, the traveler extraordinaire, two gifts brought all the way from Saudi Arabia…  my beloved saffron, and a package of their outstanding dates!  I always get very worried when he travels to Saudi Arabia, it is such a complex society!  I would be afraid of saying something wrong, doing something wrong and getting in serious trouble. So, it’s always great to hear that his plane landed back safely in the US.


From another colleague from our department, a huge batch of fresh sour cherries. Each year he invites us to go pick cherries from his trees.  We made a nice sour cherry sorbet last year, but this time I think I see a sour cherry pie in our future!


From Phil, a new rug for our kitchen, as a bottle of olive oil was accidentally broken on the old one and it resisted all our attempts to cleaning. It developed a stain that got worse and worse as weeks went by.  Who broke it? The resident food blogger. For the record, she was very sorry.



In our kitchen…


Phil’s love for fruit preserves is quite obvious… his favorite of this group was the Blackberry Preserves…. the glasses are beautiful with the handle, and we find all sorts of uses once the jam is gone.  These bottles were available at our Marshall’s store in town.

In our kitchen…


Another find from Marshall’s. A beautiful bowl, with a bit of a Moroccan flair.  I love the colors and its golden hue.

In our kitchen…


A large plastic platter that is perfect to take treats to the department. Very cheap, on sale at our grocery store. The bright yellow called my name, as you might suspect…

In our kitchen….


Phil loves to have a small square of dark chocolate with his cappuccino.  When his chocolate reserve is getting low, I like to surprise him with different brands of goodies, so he can try something different and maybe pick a new favorite…

In our kitchen…


The world’s largest celery stalk!  I apologize for the carbon footprints on this one, it came all the way from California to Kansas, but how could I resist bringing this beauty home?  Simply impossible.

In our kitchen….


Since we are in the subject of sins… Something I rarely buy, ready cut veggies. But, look at the perfectly diced zucchini!  It was on sale at our grocery store (Hy-Vee) for $2.20.  Life is too short to be virtuous all the time, don’t you think? A little culinary sin here, another there…  no big deal, right?

In our kitchen….

raspberriesA bag of freeze-dried raspberries… I have a great recipe in mind for this one… Stay tuned….  It is from a cookie book recommended by Karen, from Karen’s Kitchen Stories.  Did you know that cookbooks bought from recommendation of favorite food bloggers do not count against the “No new cookbooks in 2015?” Yeah. The amendment to the rule was made back in January. Sorry if I forgot to mention it.

In our kitchen….


This is probably an acquired taste, and will not please everyone. I’d heard of shirataki noodles as a zero-carb alternative for pasta, but until a few weeks ago I was unable to find it for sale in our neck of the woods.  Not the case anymore, two of our grocery stores have them all the time in three shapes: fettuccine, angel hair, and spaghetti.  You simply drain the liquid they are stored in, rinse the noodles well and warm them up.  They have a sort of strange smell as you open the package, but if you add a sauce or even just some butter and grated Parmigiano, it’s not bad at all. A good option for days in which I want to keep the carbs low.


I close this tour with our canine friends who absolutely
insist on barking hello….


Chief is going through another tough phase, but I managed to snap this reasonably ok shot of him. He says “Don’t worry, friends, before you know it, I am going to be back chasing squirrels, show them who is the boss around our backyard.”


Buck approves the new rug, and promises not to mark it, scratch it, butt-scoot it, or drop food on it (his Mom can take care of that part without his help).


How could Mom imagine I would do anything wrong to the new rug?  You can see I’m an angel! And, contrary to my brother, I know how to properly use a bed.


Oscar is a lot more creative with it. At the time this photo was taken he had just gotten his summer shave and seemed a little upset about it. Maybe folding the bed is a way to show his displeasure?


Well, the real displeasure is having to sit here waiting for our food. Why is Mom playing with her camera instead of feeding us? Have we been that bad? I don’t think so. The backyard has been pretty calm lately, as far as I can remember…


Yeah, I think she forgot all about the skunk by now…

Finally, I will share a little video from our visit to the research cows, 2 miles from home. The previous week I did not take my cell phone, and could not document the huge lick Buck got on the side of his belly from one of the less shy bovines.  It was priceless! This time he didn’t want to have anything to do with them, which is too bad, they absolutely love him!  Take a look by clicking here. It is short and sweet…  (I have zero patience for long videos, and I bet most people are like me).


That’s all, folks!  Celia, thanks for the virtual party, and I invite my readers to visit other kitchens around the world by stopping at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, Celia lists all the links to the posts on the right side of her front page.


ONE YEAR AGO: Sous-vide Pork Chops with Roasted Poblano Butter

TWO YEARS AGO: Roasted Strawberry-Buttermilk Sherbet

THREE YEARS AGO: Amazing Ribs for the 4th of July!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Baby Back Ribs on the 4th of July

FIVE YEARS AGO: Blueberry Muffins

SIX YEARS AGO: A Pie for your 4th of July


It’s been a while, folks, my last participation in Celia’s virtual get together was in February, so before I miss another month, here I am to invite you for a tour of our kitchen.

Starting with a super special gift that Phil gave me for my Birthday…


YESSSSS!  A Vitamix Blender, the Rolls Royce of blenders, in a gorgeous burgundy color! This thing is amazing!  We make smoothies that are REAL smooth, soups, sauces, no job is too tough for this baby.  Plus, I love the way the machine starts at a very low-speed, so even if you are blending hot liquids, that expansion, so common in all other blenders will not happen in a Vitamix.  I am totally in love with it!

In our kitchen…


One of the first smoothies I made in my Vitamix.  It was delicious, but believe it or not, I did not write down the recipe, kept throwing things in the blender, and of course regretted being so lax about it. It had coconut  and almond milk, protein powder, strawberries, a smidgen of agave nectar, and maybe a little orange juice too. Coconut flakes on top are a must, adding that little crunchy note.  I highly recommend that you play with these ingredients. But do a better job than I did, and take notes.

In our kitchen….


Gel coloring that shall be put to test in a future batch of macarons…. They are supposed to work much better than regular food coloring, because just a little bit adds a ton of color, so the delicate balance of the macaron formula is not compromised.  Now all I need is a quiet weekend to try my luck at macarons again.

In our kitchen…


A bottle of blood orange-infused olive oil… You cannot believe the smell of this product!  We got it in a store in Maryland, while visiting a couple of dear friends.  Apart from this interesting store (Olivins), we highly recommend a stop by Blackwater Reserve.  We saw many Bald Eagles flying in all their magnificent glory, and as we drove away, a couple of birds were feeding in a field by the side of the road.  We were far, but our friend Wanda managed to snap these shots.  Amazing, don’t you think?

IMG_0086 2IMG_0088

In our kitchen…


A colorful platter I fell in love instantly with… found at our town’s Tuesday Morning. In some past life I was probably a butterfly, as I have this irresistible attraction to colorful stuff…

In our kitchen, a new cookbook!


A friend of mine, having read one of my rants against the Food TV, urged me to tune into PBS and watch Christopher Kimball’s series, America’s Test Kitchen. It turns out that as a member of Amazon Prime, I can watch many of those shows for free. To make a long story short, I am officially addicted. It is all I hoped a cooking show should be. Less “show”, more “teaching”. Because where we live not all shows are available for free, I decided to get their book, which covers the whole 14 years of recipes. The only problem with watching the show, is the temptation to get the stuff they recommend.  I already fell for two things that got their top ratings:

First, a gadget to enjoy soft-boiled eggs “comme il faut”… the egg topper is amazing, works like a charm!  Fun to use, and does the job it’s designed for.


Second, a vegetable cleaver.  I had no idea I needed one, but after watching ATK, I realized life would not be complete without it.  The thing is VERY sharp, and I am not yet too comfortable using it, but slowly and surely I’ll get there (hopefully with all my fingers intact).


In our kitchen…

hamburgerBunsA batch of hamburger buns made on impulse on a Sunday afternoon. Very quick recipe to put together. You can find it here. I still need to work on shaping them a little flatter. Amazing how these babies plumped up during baking.

In our kitchen…


A bag of dried corn.  I suspect it will be hard for most people to guess what this ingredient will be used for, UNLESS you own a certain cookbook called Momofuku Milk Bar. My lips are sealed. I just hope to make this particular recipe soon and share here.

In our kitchen….


Achiote Paste.  This is a very important ingredient in some authentic Mexican dishes like Pork Pipian. Stay tuned…

In our kitchen…


Sometimes I like to have a smoothie for lunch or as a post-workout small meal. Protein powders can be pretty tough to digest, or leave an unpleasant after-taste. Not this one.  I don’t care for vanilla or chocolate-flavored protein powders, rather have pureed fruits or juices as the base of flavor.  This is a perfect product for my needs.

In our kitchen….


Isn’t this tea-infuser adorable?  You add loose tea to the metal strainer, and close it. It will float on the surface of your tea-cup, then you simply lift it and rest it inside the plastic container to dispose of the tea leaves later. I could not resist bringing it home from our Marshall’s store in town.

In our kitchen….


Special flours from I made a couple of gluten-free breads from Peter Reinhart’s book, and they often call for nut flours, not easy to find in grocery stores (yes, I do realize I could make my own if I had the inclination for it).  I got  a bag of walnut flour and a bag of cashew flour (shown in photo). does a great job with their packaging, super cute! I even got a freebie with my order, a small bag of chia seeds…  Great customer service!


As I wrote this last paragraph, three pairs of eyes were glued to me.  “Mom, you are NOT considering leaving us out this time, are you? You know that your readers don’t even pay attention to any of this stuff you brag about, all they do is scroll to the end to meet us…”  Could they possibly have a point? So, a little reluctantly, here they are. Why reluctantly, you might ask?  Two of them have caused us a considerable amount of grievance this month, to the point that we thought about selling them.  Cheap. Very cheap. As in  Free for a good home. Read on.

Let’s start with the only well-behaved one. Chief has been going through a fantastic phase, he still sleeps quite a long time each day, but goes through bursts of amazing energy, trying to chase his favorite toy, playing tug-of-war with it, and even attempting to run while going for a walk.  Amazing resilience in his 16 years and 3 months of life.


Here he is, enjoying the sunny backyard for a few minutes, before starting his opera singing to go back inside…


Buck shows great style and elegance…

FirstDanceMay I have the first dance, Mom?

But his brother has other ideas. What he lacks in elegance he compensates in enthusiasm…

ItsMyDanceThere is only ONE first dance, and it will be mine, all mine….  

Of course, when the moment calls for it, he can bring his style and poise too…


 Notice the paw placement, please… I was a lord in a previous life.
A lord, I tell ya…

Your elegance is debatable. At any rate, you cannot beat me in my awe-inducing control of the ball…


 (click to enlarge)

Which does make me a little tired…

Now, it’s time for a little detour, so let’s go out to the backyard, where a lot of emotion is waiting for you…

In our backyard….

A magnificent owl, staring at us very early in the morning…

Maybe she witnessed the horrific scenes that were waiting for me one fateful Saturday afternoon? Maybe she saw the skunk invading our backyard? Attacking Oscar? Attacking Buck? Hard to tell what the owl saw. All I can tell is what I saw, and it wasn’t pretty. A skunk is no match for a Jack Russell, and once Oscar was done vomiting and foaming in the mouth (feeling sorry for me yet?), he joined his fearless brother to help with the kill. A kill that took way too long, and I was unable to prevent, even though I did try my best. Let’s  not even talk about the state of my nerves during the development of this saga. Obviously, said saga had to happen while the man I married 15 years, 1 month, and 24 days ago was out hitting a small ball with a long stick. His cell phone set on vibrate so that no sound would interfere with his concentration during a long putt (insert Sally’s eye-roll to the skies above). But then, I am a Drama Queen. Can you wrap your mind around the unfairness of it all? I know, I know… you can hardly stand it.


Oscar guarding his prize.
Please note the small amount of foam still surrounding his mouth. 


In all fairness, the golfer arrived home and cleaned up the battle zone, dogs included. No, I did not have to call a lawyer, and yes, I was pampered big time the rest of the weekend. HA!

I hope you enjoyed this walk through the Bewitching Home…
Celia, thanks for hosting this wonderful

ONE YEAR AGO: P90X3, a Review of Tony Horton’s Latest Fitness Program 

TWO YEARS AGO: Pasta and Mussels in Saffron Broth

THREE YEARS AGO: Triple Chocolate Brownies

FOUR YEARS AGO: Shanghai Soup Dumplings

FIVE YEARS AGO: Bite-sized Chocolate Pleasure


It’s time for another virtual tour around our kitchen, following the ever-growing crowd of bloggers who participate in the event launched by my dear Celia, from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  As usual, I like to start my posts with gifts, and they are very special this time!

Marky’s Caviar, a gift from one of our graduate students when he came back from his trip to visit his family

By far the best caviar we ever tasted… smooth, very delicately flavored, not at all fishy. Perfect texture, a real delicacy!

From another graduate student in our lab, a special sweet brought all the way from India, called  Ladoo. Many types of ladoo are common in India, this one is a Boondi Ladoo, made with lentils, in a complicated process that results in total Nirvana. Trust me, this is the stuff that makes you think you took off on a magic carpet.  I wish I was brave enough to try to make it from scratch. The shiny covering is edible silver. It is not too sweet, with a subtle taste of saffron. I could eat these every day…


The vacuum sealer we had for over 10 year died a painful and loud death a month ago. My beloved husband gave me a new one so I can go on with my sous-vide adventures without a glitch.


And now, la pièce de resistance… From a reader of my blog, who insists on remaining nameless, I received a package by mail. Inside, a bottle of white truffle oil, a nice truffle shaver, and… ready for this?  A huge fresh black truffle, carefully packed in rice.  Ok, go ahead and hate me, I know you want to.  Never in a million years I would imagine such a special gift. Thank you, my secret friend! Of course, I’ll share with all of you soon my culinary adventures with this amazing ingredient.


In our kitchen…

BreadbasketA plastic bread proofing basket, I haven’t used it yet, but I learned from Karen that this type of plastic banetton works very well. The bright orange color is like a burst of sunshine in our kitchen, making me forget the frozen tundra outside. That is a good thing.

In our kitchen…


A new pan to bake individual type brownies. Got it at, it’s very sturdy. I used it to make a Brazilian delicacy that should be in the blog soon. Stay tuned.

In our kitchen…
A bottle of coconut aminos, a product that can be used exactly as soy sauce, but it has less sodium, and is soy and gluten-free, in other words, a Paleo-friendly ingredient.

In our kitchen….

avocadoOilI’ve been flirting with avocado oil forever, finally went for it.  Very flavorful, but not heavy at all. Drizzled on top of tomatoes, mozzarella and avocado slices for a Mex version of Caprese, it is delicious.  It makes great salad dressings too.

In our kitchen…


As you might remember from a recent guest post, we didn’t have the right cookie cutters to make heart-shaped Linzer cookies.  As Valentine’s products started to show up at our grocery store, I stumbled upon this little box, and of course, had to bring it home. We see Linzer cookies re-visiting our kitchen in the near future!

In our kitchen….


Raw honey, which means it is obtained straight from the beehive with very little processing afterward. One of the things I’ve been trying is taking a teaspoon before bedtime to see if it improves my sleeping. For some people, it stabilizes blood sugar during the night, which is one of the most common reasons for waking up many hours before sunrise…

In our kitchen…

A new product by Penzeys Spices, Roasted Garlic powder. I was placing an order for two of their blends that we use a lot, Southwest Seasoning and Pasta Sprinkle, and the website advertised this newly introduced product.  I decided to give it a try.  Very flavorful, not too potent, just right.

In our kitchen…

Another product I’ve been flirting with forever, vanilla paste.  Looking forward to using it soon. It smells terrific!

In our kitchen…


A bottle of almond butter with coconut in it.  I have a recipe in mind for this one, it starts with a C and it ends with OOKIE.  Can you guess it?

In our kitchen….

AlmondMilkI know that a respectable food blogger makes her or his own almond milk.  Not happening in my world anytime soon. I’ve been trying all sorts of brands, and this is so far my favorite, it seems to be the one closest to homemade, as far as addition of extra ingredients is concerned. Very nice almond flavor,  smooth texture.  Love it!

In our kitchen….Pure Irish Butter… A special product that is much better than the regular brands sold at the grocery store.  Plus, the wrapping is adorable… Recommended by Dorothy, from Shockingly Delicious.

And now, it’s time that we allow our adorable four-legged friends to say hello and share their views on the beginning of a new year…

Chief is in heaven because he got a new bed.. Come to think of it, by the time this post goes live, he will be just a couple of days shy of his 16th Birthday!  Sweet Sixteen…
Super fluffy, probably feels very comfy on his aging body.  Perfect for his afternoon nap. His morning nap. And his evening nap. He does get some serious competition, though…


He also got a special gift from Aunt Cindy,  a pair of booties that are helping him a lot, as our wood floor is too slippery for his arthritic legs.

Thank you, Aunt Cindy!

Oscar is a bit jealous of all the attention his brother is getting, but he knows that Mom cannot resist his begging eyes, and will end up giving him the cookie she is holding behind her back.

OskyCookieMay I have that cookie now, Mom?

Thank you… now I’m ready for a belly rub, it helps me digest that cookie…



Buck and his favorite activity: chewing a tennis ball until it’s totally bald. A ball used to last a couple of days, but now he can be done with it in a few hours. (sigh)

BuckPuffynoseWhat do you mean “you are ruining this ball?”


My second favorite activity is to relax with Mom by the fireplace when it’s too cold to go outside. See how handsome I am? Not only that, but I am also conquering some of my fears, as you can see in a short video by clicking here.



That’s all for now, folks!  We’ll see you again soon… in the mean time, enjoy Mom’s cooking…

Celia, thanks for hosting this fun event!  For my readers: if you want to take a virtual tour of kitchens all over the world, visit Celia’s site and look at the list of posts on her right side bar.

ONE YEAR AGO: Avocado and Orange Salad with Charred Jalapeno Dressing

TWO YEARS AGO: Green Olive, Walnuts and Pomegranate Salad

THREE YEARS AGO: Romanian Flatbreads

FOUR YEARS AGO: Ziti with Artichokes and Meyer Lemon Sauce

FIVE YEARS AGO: Blasted Broccoli, Stove-top version



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


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.



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.


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.



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



In our kitchen….


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….

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…


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…


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….


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…


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.


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…


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


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.


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


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
 Half-a-Million Page Views!
Grilling Ribbons
 Peppery Cashew Crunch
 Ossobuco Milanese



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…

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…

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.


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….

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….

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….

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…


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…


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 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?

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