Inspired by Celia, and her monthly edition of “In My Kitchen”,  I join this  virtual party once again with this post.

In my kitchen lives a rice cooker (working on quinoa in this photo)…

When we were in Los Angeles, cooking in the nano-house had a few challenges. One of the things we bought to help us out was a small rice cooker. At first, I did not want to bring it back to our regular home, thinking there would be no need for it. But, the truth is, this little gem of an appliance makes life so easy! I don’t remember last time I cooked rice on the stove top. I rinse the rice in the insert of the cooker, fill it with the appropriate amount of water, season with salt, and flip the switch on. Farro? No problem… Quinoa? Perfect every time. I am so glad Phil twisted my arm to bring it with us! ;-

… and speaking of quinoa,  I must show you one of my favorite gadgets ever!  I bought it many years ago, a simple serving utensil labeled as a couscous server. It is perfect for couscous, but I also use it to fluff rice, quinoa, and other grains.  Here it is, sitting next to two very recent acquisitions: an ice cream scoop on the far right (also great to portion muffin and cupcake batters), and a cookie dough dispenser in the center.  The cookie scoop will be highlighted in a post in the near future, Nutella drop cookies…  (nothing like a little self-advertising!).

Cookies… I’ve been on a cookie mood lately.   Even got a couple of special molds, to make one of my favorite types of cookie – spicy, sweet, crisp, addictive. Stay tuned! 😉

From cookies, let’s talk tea…   While having lunch with my dear friend Cindy at Couscous Cafe, we were both blown away by how good their hot Moroccan tea was.  I am not too wild about sweetened tea, but at some point I stopped paying attention to how much tea I was pouring for myself. I probably drank 90% of the teapot, leaving Cindy to watch, certainly a bit frustrated  with my rude manners.  It was just too good!  They had a tea set for sale, and I brought it home.

In my kitchen…  a bowl of farmer’s market yellow cherry tomatoes, plump, sweet, juicy, totally delicious!  I love to incorporate them in recipes, but sometimes I just grab one and pop in my mouth, no salt, nothing.  Just its pure flavor.

In my kitchen…  a great thing that unfortunately will come to an end. This Trader Joe’s kalamata olive oil will be enjoyed to the very last drop.  It traveled all the way from L.A. with us, and now I wish I had brought two bottles. Or three…   (sigh)

In my kitchen… a sign of the times.  Fall is the season of apples, and with apples come apple cider.  Great stuff, that I had not tried until Phil introduced me to it.  We always go through several bottles this time of the year.  And, for a change of pace, I intend to follow the footsteps of Fer, from Chucrute com Salsicha, and brew some tea using cider as the basis.  She mentioned it recently in her blog. Those who read Portuguese (or you can always use Google translate) can take a look at her post here.

and, finally… in my kitchen these days, an attempt at organization.  I’ve decided to keep only my issues of Fine Cooking.  All other publications I will read, cut out the recipes that appeal to me, and glue them in a notebook.  The rest: recycle bin.  I’ve tried many methods to organize my recipes before, with very limited success.  But, no big deal,  I have a lot of fun trying!   What matters is the journey, not the destination.   Right?   😉

ONE YEAR AGO:  Creamy Broccoli Soup

TWO YEARS AGO: Marbled Rye  (how NOT to make it, that is…😉

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25 thoughts on “IN MY KITCHEN – SEPTEMBER 2011

  1. Sally< I have a basket with folders, labeled 'meat dishes',' cookies', 'salads', etc., where my magazine clippings go. When a recipe is a success it goes in the book (a scrapbook originally) with comments, or if not a success it goies in the 'failure file'! All my magazines get passed on to my sister, who has to cope with the missing parts of pages!


    • Pat, I like the idea of the folders – I am adding the recipes as they pop up from the magazines, and thought of making an index (divided in categories) in the computer, so I can search for specific things. Of course, it’s all ok in the paper, the problem is finding the time to do it all…. I also like the way you discard the failures – I had one just last week from my freshly made notebook, and just wrote on it: not good! Needs major tweaking…


    • Yes, the glasses came with it – the set they served the tea at the restaurant was silver, this set is stainless steel, but I like it anyway.

      You know, I’ve never again seen a “fluffer” for sale? So glad I bought that one…


  2. i was introduced not long ago to a rice maker…what a hazzle free and clean way to cook rice. I love it and they’re an economical prize tag on the shelf, a surprise. What great silicone cookie cutters, yet to discover those gems.! A great look at your September kitchen.


    • Indeed, the rice cooker is amazing! Now, as to the cookie cutters, they are actually made of some type of clay or ceramic, and there’s some skill involved in using them – I will blog about it in a week or two. They are very cute, though, and the company I bought them from has HUNDREDS of types.


  3. I think I’ve been through about three different systems to organize my recipes so far. My latest seems to be working…for now. Like you said, half of the fun is in the trying (it’s sick how much I love organizing!).🙂 I love your cookie mold – that is so adorable and seasonal!


    • You and me both…. when I have some extra time in the weekend, I have to control myself not to go to the closet and get into the “sorting clothes by color”… or making lists of what types of lists to make (yeah, I’ve got “issues”)

      I am now trying to organize the pantry – but it’s such a huge job, I’ve postponed it twice. Maybe next weekend will be the one.


  4. Sally, what a lovely post! Thanks for playing – it’s so nice to read about all the interesting things in your kitchen. Ironically, despite growing up in a Chinese house with a rice cooker that seemed to run continuously, I now cook rice in the microwave. I think it’s laziness – the microwave container goes in the dishwasher!🙂

    Your cookie cutter is beautiful, and I’m just crazy over your Moroccan tea set! I love those little coloured glasses!


    • Celia, thanks for linking my blog on your front page – I cannot believe you found the time to do that when you are just leaving for your trip…. thanks so much! Enjoy your week!


  5. I’ve burnt out two rice cookers and am due for another- soon!
    I have made soup in them- rice, couscous, but not quinoa- good idea!
    Looking forward to seeing your cookies- I have that smallest scoop and use it for appetizers as well- tiny meatballs and sauerkraut balls!
    Thanks for the peek into your kitchen!


    • great tip on mini-meatballs – will think about that for sure!

      and soup in the rice cooker, another thing I never thought about doing….

      glad you enjoyed the peek in our kitchen, I certainly have a ton of fun composing this type of post….


  6. Funny thing about Nutella (and not whoring out your drop cookies)….

    A couple of months ago I needed a jar of Nutella for a bribe (wifey+chocolate=pliable) but when I saw it at the store the price had gotten outrageously high. My wife is not worth it.

    BUT. Right next to it was the store brand, in some nondescript generic lable. And it only cost half as much.

    “Ok” I figured, “It’s probably Play-Doh, artificial chocolate flavoring and brown food color. But once I get wifey tanked up, if I spread it on a Girl Scout Thin Mint she probably won’t be able to tell the difference.”

    I looked at the back label though, just in case. It said “Made in Italy, from good stuff. Not Play-Doh and brown floor sweepings.” Or something similar.

    Then I looked at the label on the Nutella brand Nutella.

    “Made in Canada….”

    I stopped right there.

    CANADA? What the hell do THEY know about fine Italian high calorie dessert spreads? For godsake, they eat POUTINE up there!

    So I got the el-cheapo store brand. And you know what? Wifey couldn’t tell the difference, tanked or not.

    By coincidence, this past weekend wifey was away and I had a friend over. We made Chinese filled dumplings of various stripes; put some in a soup, steamed some, fried some, etc. I made the wonton wrappers from scratch, just flour and water with a little salt, rested, and rolled out thin. But I had a pretty large lump left over even after making a junk-load of dumplings.

    I rolled what was left into one oblong sheet, smeared it with that faux-Nutella (“fauxtella”?), spooned cherry preserves on one half and sweet orange marmalade on the other, rolled it up, brushed on melted butter, then crushed some almonds and coated poured ’em over. Then baked it off.

    It was AWFUL.

    Seriously, what was I thinking? The dough was just flour and water. It was like biting into a Longaberger basket filled with jam.

    But we opened a bottle of grappa, and soon it was GREAT!

    I’ve gotta remember that recipe….


    • MY GOSH! My Nutella was made in Canada too!!!! (Sally almost faints!)

      incredible! Amazing! Unreal!

      well, if you care to share the brand you found, I might look for it just for fun. In fact, Giada did not use Nutella in her show, she used another Italian-made (really made in Italy, I suppose) hazelnut spread.

      well, well, well… so much for reading labels! as to grappa, at that alcohol content, anything will taste good, you must agree… 😉


  7. The “brand” I found is not an actual brand. Like many of the grocery chains around here, they contract to bulk providers for generic provisions then offer them at lower prices. But in return, you give up the name-brand. So my jar just says “Hazelnut Spread…packed exclusively for Shop-Rite, produced and imported from Italy”. The “A&P” supermarket chain by us does the same thing, as do several others. As long as you’re not going for Snob Points, it’s great. The products are sometimes higher quality (like this) at lower prices than the better known ’boutique’ labels.

    And I do agree. Grappa cures many culinary ills🙂


  8. I have to get one of those scoopy things for measuring out cupcake mixture, Heidi suggested it the other day and it had never occured to me, but then I have only recently made cupcakes, I’m very slow to catch on to baking trends, I usually wait till they have long passed. Are you going to make the Hamelman apple cider bread? I can’t remember if you have done that one it is super delicious and now is the time of course. Loads of fun in your kitchen as always xx Joanna


    • Joanna, that bread sounds appealing – I have, however, two different breads in line, I’m trying to decide what to bake. One is a sandwich type rye bread featured in the King Arthur site, using pickle juice. Sounds intriguing…. the other a sourdough.

      now you are tempting me with the apple cider….🙂 There’s just too many breads and not enough weekends!


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