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

48 thoughts on “IN MY KITCHEN – MARCH 2014

  1. So many marvellous things in your kitchen. My favourite is the balsamic vinegar. I haven’t managed to find any aged balsamic since my last bottle ran out and I can’t remember where I bought it. I think it was Metro but I haven’t been there in ages. The chipotle lime panko is a revelation. I’d love to give it a try. 🙂

    Buck, Oscar and Chief are an always great way to finish off these posts.

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    • that chipotle panko was quite interesting indeed – it also has finely crumbled tortillas, so it has more crunch than you would expect. I just noticed another type of this product in the grocery store, but did not bring it home. Gotta do that before it disappears 😉

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    • I am also quite fond of the boards made with different types of wood – I cannot quite imagine the amount of work involved… I am sure molecular biology is a lot simpler

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  2. Good morning Sally! What a great post, let me first say thank you 🙂 so much for including me and my work in your post today, I appreciate that very much and I am grateful. More importantly I am so glad that you and your husband love the boards! The pictures you made of the boards are very beautiful!

    My wife and I love to try different vinegars and olive oils so we are always trying to find something different, you are going to love both of those vinegars! Meatballs are one of my favorites, they looks delicious, I enjoy cooking with my roasting pan, they are great! My children love for me to make meatball sliders, always have to make extra for them to take home. I only wish I could make dough like you do for pizzas and breads, the pizza looks delicious, love pizza and eat more pizza than I should! I always enjoy reading about Buck! 🙂

    thank you again for including me and my work in your post!
    Michael

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  3. What a marvelous post, Sally! You make me feel as if I am right there next to you at the kitchen counter! Always wonderful to see the pups again! We miss you all more than I can say.

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  4. You have the cutest dogs ever, Sally! And I love your umbrella, thank you for including it for me! Magnificent wooden boards, I’m sure Phil loved them! Oh, and I can’t drink Tequila, it makes me paranoid. 🙂 Your labeling tip is a good one – I once defrosted beef stock and found..apple sauce.. 🙂

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    • I remembered your tequila-induced-paranoia, and almost made a remark about it on the post, but decided it would be too “intrusive” 😉 Oh, well – it is funny!

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  5. Love those wooden cutting boards. I have a few that I use and a few more that I keep hanging so that they remain as beautiful as when I got them… I love wooden utensils.
    And I love fig balsamic vinegar. You have a lot of great stuff in your kitchen this month- but your dog pictures take the prize- they are endearing!

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  6. When your four-legged menagerie photos appear all else gets a ‘lesser priority’ status from this house 🙂 ! Oh how their eyes talk!! But I really think you have heritage items in those wooden boards – originals pure and simple . . . . wish I appreciated tequila more: have just seen a long and interesting film on how it is made from the blue agave in a boutique setup in Mexico. . . does not make me paranoid, just for some reason its taste and I do not agree!!

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    • I think tequila can taste completely different depending on the quality and how exactly it is made – there are so many different types – but not everyone is a fan. Phil actually has more problems of headaches with wine (particularly red) and often prefers to have just a shot of tequila if he wants to drink something alcoholic.

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  7. March already?!?!?! January and February just flew by! What a great pair of cutting boards, Sally. What luck winning one, too! I just took a look at Michael’s site and he does some beautiful work. Going to keep him in mind when it comes to gift giving. What a great solution to those cheaply made plastic wrap boxes! I have to look for a similar solution. It sure beats getting angry every time I need a piece of wrap.

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  8. I am truly in love with those cutting boards, thank you for the link to the blog Sally! I think I need to buy myself one of those 🙂
    I love the Greek inspired pizza, I had one with my friend last week at a little cafe we love. The only difference is that they used a tomato pesto instead of the sauce and it was heavenly.

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    • wow, that tomato pesto sounds amazing, what a great idea for a pizza “sauce” – will keep that one in mind for our next pizza adventure

      nice to “see” you here, Sawsan! Hope all is going well for you and your family

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  9. Your boards are very beautiful and so good to know the maker, much more fun somehow. I hanker after handmade American cookie boards and the like, but airmail is prohibitive for heavy goods, so I will just admire from afar and we have many talented wood workers here too, I guess it’s a question of searching them out sometimes. Your Pizza looks very gorgeous and I love the idea of those flavoured Panko crumbs. On plastic wrap or clingfilm as it is called in the UK, I have a gadget called the Wrapmaster dispenser and the film that comes with it is much heavier duty and, I hate to say it, because I sound like an advert, but it is brilliant, if not as pretty as yours! Lovely lovely post, feeling all inspired to bake meatballs in the oven too XX

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  10. Your kitchen is more exciting then mine :). Love how you coordinate your nail polish with that plastic wrap box. Of course Buck is always so cute and photogenic too.

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    • Nail polish is one of my obsessions… 😉 A different color each week, but the blue turned out quite nicely with the box, indeed… it was a lucky coincidence, though

      Buck is not easy to take a picture, but I think Oscar is even worse – they simply do not stand still long enough – for each photo that I show here, I guess I have about 10 others all blurred, out of focus….

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  11. Oh…. love all the doggie photos, of course! The cookie twist is beyond adorable… love when dogs cock their heads like that; so cute! Those cutting boards are gorgeous Sally. They really do look like works of art. You have the greatest things in your kitchen — and a set of nails to match each occasion ;-).

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    • the cookie twist is hard to resist…., I just want to grab him and squeeze him! He is the only one who does that now. Chief cannot hear much, he used to do it. And Oscar never does that. I heard it is a sign of intelligence, which doesn’t place Oscar very high on the intellectual level, but… he is still adorable!

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  12. What fun Sally! I love all the photos of your pups. So adorable. The kids would just love them to pieces. And I love, love, love your cutting boards – just gorgeous!!!! My favorite thing though – the fig balsamic. I had a bottle from a farmer’s market a while back and I LOVED it. So delicious!

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    • I bet your kids would go crazy for our pups, although Buck can be a bit of a problem with strangers, he has been abused for 5 years, and it shows. Once he relax, he is fine, but first encounters have to be monitored very closely.

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    • Ha! You fell for those cookie scoops too! And there are several sizes! I am so glad I decided to buy just one to try…. oh, well – we learned our lesson! I still love the color, though – beautiful purple

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  13. G’day Sally! Your post made me more than smile today! Tequila, four legged furry, love your cookie scoop and umbrella…love your food photos…thanks for this month’s kitchen view!
    Thank you for this month’s kitchen view!
    Cheers! Joanne

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  14. I’ve become acquainted with Michael’s blog as well.. as I’m thinking about which sort of cutting board I’d like:) I like that really white wood on one side of your small round one! I’m going to look for some of those panko crumbs here, what a great ingredient to have on hand for dinner! Love your umbrella.. and I love your pups! Oh, my the sweet expressions they have on their little faces:) xx

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  15. I like to cook meatballs in the oven but they have always been a bit soggy on the underside. I like your trick for putting them on rack so that the heat circulates better – I’m sure that will solve the sogginess problem. Great idea.

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    • Hello, Glenda! I hope you can take a look at the recipe I recently used, it’s on the front page of the blog, if you want to see it… very nice, the meatballs are tender and juicy

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  16. I met Michael through a blog comment too and he’s lovely. I haven’t ordered anything yet because the shipping is immense but I plan to. Maybe the Ina cheeseboard cutting board?

    Again with so many wonderful things in your kitchen. Where do you put it all? You’d need a special storeroom just for gifts, I reckon. 🙂

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