IN MY KITCHEN – MAY 2015

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…

Vitamix

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…

smoothie

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….

GelColors

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…

oliveOil

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…

Platter

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!

ATK

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.

eggtopper

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).

VeggieCleaver1

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…

corn

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

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

In our kitchen…

peaProtein

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….

teaComposite

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….

IMG_7385

Special flours from Nuts.com. 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).  Nuts.com 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!

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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.

ChiefComposite

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

ChiefSun

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…

OskyFoot

 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…

BuckBallPlay

 (click to enlarge)

Which does make me a little tired…
BuckSofa

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….
OwlMorning

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&Prize

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

11235097-cartoon-character-skunk

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
party!

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

IN MY KITCHEN: FEBRUARY 2015

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
compositecaviar11

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…

Laddu

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.

FoodSaver

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.

compositeTruffles

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…

squarespan

A new pan to bake individual type brownies. Got it at amazon.com, 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…

LinzerCutter

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….

Rawhoney

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…

almondbutter

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…
ChiefNewBed
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…

competition

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…

NirvanaOsky

 

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?”

BuckyPurple

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.

 

DoubleTrouble

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

 

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.

compositetowel11

 

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.

compositewine

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…

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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….

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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.

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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….

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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).

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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!   ;-)

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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…

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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…

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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?

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

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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…

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(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….

ChiefFlour

 

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)