IN MY KITCHEN – MARCH 2014

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

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

CuttingBoard1
What I love the most about these boards is how I learned about them. One day I noticed that a blogger from WordPress liked one of my posts, and decided to follow the link to his site.  This was the first thing I read when I landed there:

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

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

In our kitchen…

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

In our kitchen…

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

In our kitchen…

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

In our kitchen…

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

In our kitchen…

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

In our kitchen….

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

In our kitchen…

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

In our kitchen…

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

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

In our kitchen…

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

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

umbrella

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

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

Buck1
We actually tried to trick Buck, giving him something we never expected a dog to be interested in. We were wrong.  He grabbed it and would not let it go… I was holding a raw sugar snap pea. He thought he had died and gone to canine heaven! Ate the whole thing and came back searching for more.

Buck2

Oscar says he is clearly Mom and Dad’s favorite.  Not only he’s got plenty of style and elegance…
Osky

But no other dog has a nose that matches Mom’s favorite color so well. A purple nose, that’s not something to sniff at… 😉

OskyNose

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

PhotoBomb

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

IMG_3754And life goes on in the Bewitching Kitchen…

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

ONE YEAR AGO: The Blogger and the Shrink

TWO YEARS AGO: The Wheat-Berry Transmogrification

THREE YEARS AGO: Curried Zucchini Soup

FOUR YEARS AGO: Roasted Onion and Asiago Cheese Miche