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…


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…


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….


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…


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…


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!


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.


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).


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…


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

In our kitchen…


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….


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….


Special flours from 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). 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!


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.


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


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…


 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…


 (click to enlarge)

Which does make me a little tired…

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….

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


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

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

59 thoughts on “IN MY KITCHEN – MAY 2015

  1. Omg Sally so many things to comment on. The skunk! Alrighty then! Love my vitamix. Need to make use of my Amazon prime streaming. Coveting that cleaver. I really like the gel color, but now use Americolor powder. Even better. You bought a cookbook! I think that’s it! 🙂


    • Karen, I was disappointed that the cleaver did not do a good job with spaghetti squash, but then it could be operator error and my insecurities handling it. However, the thing slices tomatoes, onions, celery like it’s paper! So I’ve been using it a lot. Today I intend to try ;acorn squash – if you don’t hear from me in a few days, it means I had to go for surgery to stick back a few fingers. Cross yours for me will you?


  2. I heard about the skunk story. I haven’t smelled skunk for years (obviously) but it’s impossible to forget.

    Love that platter and the cleaver. I’ve got some agrumato lemon and some lime but blood orange? Not yet!

    Your babies are so cute.


    • Babies are cute, yeah. I know, that’s why they are still here. Buck is just making his noises, pre-barking routine, because he’s lost his ball AGAIN under the sofa. I am the official retriever. Why, oh why does he keep letting it go there?


  3. What a great post that brightened my day Sally! Loved the cookbook, your bread and colorful platter!
    Don’t get me started re skunk smell…As Maureen wrote…”it’s impossible to forget!”
    Thanks for this month’s kitchen view too!


    • Thanks for stopping by, Joanne… indeed, the “bouquet” of skunk is something not to be forgotten easily… Of course, everyone of my regular readers know that in a past life I was a serial killer, so it’s karma coming back


  4. Yep – Vitamix is indeed the RR of blenders. Lucky you! Meanwhile, the buns look very professional. And you’ve got me thinking re: the olive oil as I have huge load of dried blood orange peel and just got some fresh pressed oil when I was in South Australia. Seems like a plan. Thanks for the inspiration! xx


  5. I enjoy ATK also. I like the science of aspects of cooking that are explained. Reliable recipes. That Rosle egg topper is a great tool. Makes 0600 breakfast just a little less hassle.


    • Reliable recipes and a nice approach to cooking – those shows in which everyone is oh so very happy and smily and with professional make up and hairdos, gets to be tiring after a while… But, I like to learn something when I watch a cooking show, for entertainment I opt for Big Bang Theory… 😉


  6. What a great post! I have the same vitamix, and it is fabulous. I also purchased a smaller jar, and also a smaller dry mix jar, to make nut butters. have i made any yet? of course not! but at least i know i can! we use as well. dried pears were our last freebie!


    • Yeah, the skunk got the worst of it all. Some images are hard to erase from my mind, and well… I know it all sounds funny in the telling, but I was a wreck, a complete wreck that day. And poor Phil heard some monologues that lasted for a while and the tone was not particularly friendly – in fact, we thought about uploading a sound file with the voice message I left in his cell phone DURING the fiasco, but we did not know how to do it. I gotta say it is pretty funny once you hear it a few weeks later 😉


  7. This post has aroused a horrible case of gadget envy in me. Luckily I can’t afford to buy that Vitamix but I can want it.🙂 The peacock plate is gorgeous too. I’m curious what the purpose of the egg topper IS though.

    The drama in the back yard … I would have been afraid that the foam around the mouth meant it was a rabid skunk and that Oscar was infected. Sounds like all is well though other than the clean up.


    • Their vaccines were up to date, but they got another shot just for extra safety. The foaming would not be related to rabies because it only happens after a period of incubation. I think it was a reaction from the skunk spray. Oscar has a delicate stomach (eye-roll again…. no problem chewing a skunk, apparently)

      Liked by 1 person

        • I have to say it was all such a chaotic scene, that I have a hard time remembering some of the details, even right after. I did not notice the skunk for a while, he was hiding behind a rock, so I had no idea why Oscar was vomiting.. OH, well – as a friend of mine always says, Drama Follows Sally…😉

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh my gosh Sally hysterically funny. Love my vitamix as well. There is nothing I can’t do with that baby. Remember when I first got it my husband nearly died but soon he was singing its praises and telling others about the wonders of the vitamix. Ha!


  9. Okay, I feel compelled, even though comments were closed, to start off by congratulating you on your big news – what a star she is indeed🙂 congrats Sally!! A vitamix for you birthday – wow, wow, lucky lady – and this was not enough to make up for the skunk debacle absence? Heeheeh… actually, it sounds rather tummy turning. Funny enough, I went through something a little similar when my man was out of town… Stella was in the backyard in the evening and thought she’d invite her new found friend to play — it seems the skunk did not want to play nice. No kill (goldens are not generally natural born killers – lol) but a heavily sprayed dog and my boys who were still quite young at the time, actually woke up from the nauseating smell and couldn’t sleep!!… admittedly, not my favorite moment either🙂


    • Thank you, my dear!!!! Greenlee is simply adorable and I am sooo glad we got to see her right before she turned 1 month old…

      now, keep in mind that my beloved husband places his phone on vibrate but doesn’t realize if it DOES vibrate. When he is playing golf, he is in another dimension. But, again, I am labeled as the Drama Queen. You do realize that I endure A LOT in the name of our relationship, right? Yes, thank you


  10. Sally, thanks for the tour thru the kitchen and your fun ‘finds’. I love seeing others treasures. The tea infuser is adorable.

    Poor doggies. Poor you. I’ve had opossum and squirrels tease the Dickens out of Hannah. It’s not fun to witness, but it’s part of the circle of life, or so I try to remind myself.

    When you tire of the Vitamix I know someone who would take it off your hands. 😉


    • Thank you very much for the poor you. I think it is very appropriate and I do not get enough sympathy. Quite the contrary. (sigh)

      If I get tired of the Vitamix, I will let you know right away! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  11. The olive oil sounds amazing, and I love the tea infuser, great to see all of the wonderful bits and pieces from your kitchen…but even more lovely to meet your furry babies. The skunk story sounds like a nightmare though! What a horrible scene to have in your back yard!!! I guess they were only doing what comes naturally…?


    • Yes, what comes naturally to them is to give their mom a hard time. This morning Chief – the good one – got off his bed and stepped on the water bowl. Which of course, was full. I happened to be barefoot. Can you connect the dots on that one? (sigh, sigh, sigh)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ania! glad you enjoyed the little tour through our kitchen and this time also the backyard.

      by the way, the owl was sitting on the same tree this morning. I hope the rest of the day will be smooth…

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Late on a busy weekend way Down Under I have to smile at Buck’s request : ‘May I have the first dance Mom’ . . . as if there could be [well almost, but he would understand!] another choice . . . there have been many dances methinks . . .


  13. Honestly Sally, the skunk saga DESERVED drama and you are a saint for not interrupting the Handsome Stud’s golf game! I can’t believe you have owls AND bald headed eagles in your IMK post, how wonderful! I have exactly the same packet of achiote in my kitchen, and you lucky woman, a Vitamix! Ok, we can probably forgive the HS for the skunk thing then..😉


    • Celia, I am NOT a saint – I tried as hard as I could to interrupt HS game – the man is oblivious to phone vibrations, so I am considering going back to school and work on a fantastic project: phones that deliver a small electric shock once a specific number (the wife, that is) calls the gentleman. Nothing too strong, you see? Of course, the intensity of the shock increases with each ignored text or phone call.. I might become a millionaire. I can feel the potential 😉


  14. Blood orange infused olive oil sounds wonderful and love all your kitchen accessories. Enjoy using your lovely new Vitamix and experimenting.🙂


    • Thank you, Moya!

      the blood orange olive oil was used at the store to bake some brownies and they were AMAZING! The owner of the store was pretty smart to have that waiting for his customers, best advertisement ever for the product!


  15. We don’t get skunks here so the worst I’ve had to cope with is dead rat.
    I have to confess to scrolling to the end of your IMK posts to see what the furry ones have been up to! Dear old Chief – he is amazing for his age.


    • Glad you enjoyed it! Pups are still in the doghouse. Preemptively. And the owl seemed to have moved almost permanently to our backyard. We are smitten with her. Or him. Hard to tell. Won’t answer my questions…


  16. This comment is in response to your May 5 blog which has the comments closed down. Sally, do not post recipes without the recipe written. it is the most irritating way to do a blog to go to the trouble of cooking and writing then no recipe. and a waste of reader’s time. yours is one of my favorite blogs. I am sorry to see it change. this is such an issue with me I will unsubscribe. also, just becuz an author does not respond to you doesnt mean anything except they are not responding. they are not bad people or doing anything personally against you. as long as you credit the author and their book or blog, it is fine. you are not infringing. in fact, by cooking and writing about a recipe, you are promoting the author’s work. if an author does not want you to cook and write about a recipe in your blog, just respect their wishes and move onto another recipe-there are a zillion out there. the majority of food writers are thrilled to have people make their recipes and write about it.


    • Don’t worry, I blog 90% of recipes from magazines and websites, with very few proportion of recipes from cookbooks. In fact, the only change you will see is that every once in a while a post will show up with a more general description rather than a recipe in printable format. You can see it already there in a few posts, for instance in breads from Josey Baker’s book. Also in a few bread recipes from Dan Lepard, which I directed readers to his own link.

      in my quick assessment I’d say that I will have a 10 to 1 ratio of regular recipes versus “cookbook recipes”

      I just wanted to get that out in the open for reasons that I rather not discuss too openly. 😉

      But I would NEVER change my blog to a site that doesn’t post recipes because I would be the first to unsubscribe to my own site!

      still friends?


  17. Sally, my sister gave me one of Christopher Kimball’s cookbooks and it was such a favorite. Neat to see the whole series in one cookbook — and thanks for sharing their egg topper gadget. I’ve never been too handy at topping soft boiled eggs.🙂 Your eagle and owl photos — and yes, darling pups and “commentary” — were wonderful, too!


    • Kim, you should see ME trying to top soft boiled eggs. Can you spell “crime scene”, minus the blood? Not pretty.

      the gadget is so much fun to use….

      Glad to ‘see”you here!


  18. How exciting a Vitamix🙂 It does make amazing smoothies🙂 try everything… my favourites are always the green ones and I also use pea protein as I’m not a fan of the flavoured ones either. That Olive Oil intrigues me… I’m not sure what I would make, I will have to give it a go🙂 Thanks for sharing! Liz xx


  19. A Vitamix! That’s my dream machine! And the colour is perfect – what else have you made in your beautiful new member of your kitchen? You had so much going on in your backyard – are your puppies ok now? I’m also loving your blood orange infused oil – I’m a bit of a sucker for something a little different when it comes to oils. That peacock platter is gorgeous – I love bright plates too🙂


  20. Have fun with your new Vitamix. Hubby got me a Blendtec for my birthday in April and we love it! The olive oil is also great, an invaluable kitchen item. Try to keep all your fingers with the new knife!


  21. i love citrus flavoured oils but we always buy pressed rather than infused as you get a better flavour. blood orange is my fave. oh my word that skunk tale! what a sad story. must have been awful watching it being killed. oh dear and i bet the dogs stank afterwards. How marvellous to have a new blender. i am on the lookout for a new one but am biding my time as i want to get the one that is “just right”. cleavers? eek not brave enough to use one.:(


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