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?

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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….

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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. 

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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