I cannot think of a better way to start 2021 than inviting my readers for a virtual tour of our kitchen. In My Kitchen posts are hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. At the end of this post you will find a link to jump to her site and see what everybody else is sharing this month. I join four times each year, with a new post on the first day of January, April, July and October.

Starting with gifts…

A little crocheted elephant with a magnet, super cute gift made and sent by my friend Jennifer, from California. Elephant is my favorite animal, and purple one of my favorite colors. She hit that one out of the park! Thank you!

From our graduate student, Taihao, a savory snack from China. Addictive to say the least. Dried green peas with a delicious mixture of spices.  It comes in a large bag with small portions that ensure the product stays fresh for a long time. I confess to finding unusual ways to enjoy it… like sprinkled over white rice with my dinner… 

From Phil, a new Springerle mold! It is amazing how he was able to find a style I don’t have, when I’ve been accumulating quite a few over the past couple of years. Made by hand in Switzerland! I love it and cannot wait to mold some cookie dough into it. For the photo it is laying on my leggings, I thought that they happened to match the mold quite well… Serendipity at work…

A new acquisition for our family, which is not exactly a kitchen gadget, but it does wonders on the kitchen floor…

A Roomba vacuum! We used to have one of the first models many years ago in Oklahoma but ended up leaving it behind. It had too many little issues with steps and corners, and we did not feel it was worth the trouble. Well, the technology behind these newer models is nothing short of amazing… we are totally in love with it. It avoids steps, it goes back to charge when cleaning is done, and goes underneath all the furniture, which in itself is pretty awesome. We are still learning all the features, but I highly recommend it. Every single room of our house is spotless clean, including the basement. We release the roomba at night, one area at a time. HEAVEN! 

In our kitchen….

I am normally not too fond of a single-use gadget, but this is so great that I don’t want to be without it anymore. A ginger grater. It pretty much juices the ginger root into a nice pulp with zero effort. I love this baby!

In our kitchen….

A set of citric oils: lemon, orange and lime. These pack a ton of flavor, and are particularly nice to add to ganaches in bonbons and macaron fillings because all you need is a tiny amount. I learned about the oils in a cookbook dedicated to chocolate confections, but find myself using them quite often, even in salad dressings, or whisked into olive oil to dip a slice of sourdough bread.

In our kitchen….

Rose Petal Jam… Stay tuned for this one, which will show up in a certain cookie of French origin. Rose, violet and lavender are strong flavors that need to be used with caution, but when you hit that right amount, they are heavenly, in my opinion.  I found it at Marshalls for a very nice price, but it is available on amazon.

In our kitchen….

New wooden molds. The left one is traditional Springerle type, the right set (a double duty mold) is more appropriate for filled cookies, as they are very deep. Instead of rolling the dough and pressing the mold on it, you fill the mold with dough, press it in, fill, and add more dough to close the top (which will be then the bottom of the baked cookie). I have used the first mold to make White Chocolate Lime Molded Cookies…. The other mold is waiting patiently to play.


In our kitchen….

A very nice balsamic vinegar infused with blood orange. It is thick, and very delicious. Not only for savory uses like marinades, but also excellent in chocolate ganache.

In our kitchen….

A tip for dealing with macarons that end up with a little bump in the center. If that happens to you, a Microplane can fix it, as you can see in the composite below.

Just be gentle and work the blade until the bump is fully smooth. Although it will be good even if you serve the shells plain, a little decoration will hide all signs of your sneaky maneuver. 

In our kitchen….

As you may have noticed, I baked a lot of sugar cookies in December. They were sent to family members, friends, neighbors, and also shared in homeless meals. Three products related to cookie decoration are worth sharing. 

The black pearls by PME are excellent to use as eyes or buttons for decoration, as they do not “melt”  like other black products will do. By melting I mean release the color into the surrounding icing over time. Tulip Red is a red dye that does not have a sour taste. I had no idea but most red gel dyes have a taste that just like cilantro, some people are very sensitive to. If you are using red as a small detail on the cookie, no big deal, but if you are flooding a large extension of the cookie with red, consider getting this product.  Finally, my favorite of this trio: Diamond Dust from SugarArt. I love it so much!  You can buy already in a pump, it does wonders to cookies, like I showed you in my previous macaron post

You cannot select a portion of the cookie to be covered, it will stick even on dry icing, but it looks quite amazing with just a tiny spray. 

In our kitchen….

A super fine tip edible marker.  Another product I fell in love with, because for very delicate details, I am not skilled enough to work with royal icing.  One example is this little Santa I made last month.

The eyes needed to be as thin and delicate as possible. Only that type of marker will do. 

In our kitchen….

I use luster dust quite often, but this is different because it is water-soluble. From SweetSticks. You get a small bowl with water, wet the brush and swirl it around the surface. There is essentially no waste of product. And it does work quite well, as you can see in this little Christmas tree. 


In our kitchen….

This really is a life-changer gadget if you are into air-brushing: a Stencil Genie. Placing the stencil over a cookie and trying to steady it with one hand, spraying with the other, is simply a disaster waiting to happen. Plus, the edges of the design get all blurry. This simple plastic set shuts the stencil in place with magnets on the corners. You place it flat over the cookie and spray on. So clever and easy to use!  You can also see how I cover the surface of the countertop with plastic wrap, so that mess is kept at a minimum. Yes, there will be some waste of plastic, but the neat-freak in me prefers to live with that type of guilt. 

In our kitchen….

A feeble attempt at organizing my Sprinkle Entropy Corner. I label the tops so there is some hope of finding what I need. SS stands for Sanding Sugar. NP for Non-pareils. This is one box. It is not the only one. Enough said. Freud would have a blast with me.


So, that’s all for now, my friends.
New Year, New Rules.
The pups have had their share of fame in MY BLOG over the years,
and they’ve been putting on airs.
Enough is enough…..

Can they shame me in to it? How could they? Am I really that weak? 

Truth is, I have the unsettling feeling that if I remove them from these posts, my readership will drop to near zero. And they seem to know that too well (sigh). 

So what are these derelicts up to? 

Buck might be tremendously cute indeed, but he’s learned some nasty tricks from his bigger brother, the Black-Spotted-Capeless-Hero who attends by the name of BogeyQT. 

For many years he had never considered eating paper, but now we have to be very vigilant. Any piece of paper (or a big roll that finds itself on the floor) is immediately claimed and consumed. He did learn that from Bogey, but as a good student, he has definitely surpassed the teacher. 

In fact, he now seems to think that ANYTHING found on the floor is a chewing toy. He’s ruined my wooden scoop a couple of months ago, and for this installment of IMK, he made sure to destroy my favorite silicone spatula, the one that was perfect for macaronage (sigh). 

I guess my point is proven. 

I suppose this picture captures the very essence of our Black-Spotted-Capeless-Hero. I should thank my friends Jill and Astrid for jointly coining the term, which I suppose fits him well. But the mere sound of a knife leaving the drawer, a plastic wrap being ripped open, a wooden board laying on the countertop will wake up the beast from the arms of Morpheus to assume his very important function in our home. 

He’s had his share of Karma last month.  Somehow he cut his back leg and needed to go see a vet, which in pandemic times is even worse than normal. Phil could not go into the building with him, the vet came to the car and took a very scared BogeyQT away. 

He got a lot of attention and loving care, and was nursed back to health.  

His brothers were a bit concerned that socks-on-paws would become a thing. 

From Oscar: Since we are on the subject of “no way”,  let me remind you of my stance on tortillas. I don’t care how carefully you pass them over a fire, it might be appealing to you, but it disgusts me. I hope it is the last time I need to endure this type of offering. 

And to prove that 2020 was a very odd year, events with close to zero probability materialized as reality. 


The bottomline is that the only one who has absolutely no issues with any type of food is Bucky Boy. We constantly fight to keep his weight down, as it will definitely help him live longer. Plus, he seems a bit self-conscious at times…

No, Buck. You are just stocky and strong and powerful and I love you to pieces!

That’s all for now, my friends!  We start the year with high hopes that things will improve all over our planet. We know that the first semester will be still pretty dark, but as people get vaccinated in larger and larger numbers, we should be able to turn this page and recover as a society. Let’s do our part, get the vaccine when is our turn, and help end lingering doubts about it.  For my views on vaccination, you can read (and share) an article I wrote a few years ago. 

Oh, wait…. Oscar seems to have some wishes for 2021….


If you’d like to see what other food bloggers shared to start 2021 on a good note, read this post by Sherry and check out the link party at the end.   

from our home to yours!


ONE YEAR AGO: Happy 2020 In My Kitchen!

TWO YEARS AGO: Happy 2019 In My Kitchen!

THREE YEARS AGO: Happy New Year In My Kitchen!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Happy New Year In My Kitchen!

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: Happy New Year!

SIX YEARS AGO: And another year starts…

SEVEN YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: January 2014

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

NINE YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

TEN YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye


  1. Your decorated cookies are amazing, and your many items for pressing, shaping, decorating and finishing them are completely unbelievable. As a non-decorator of any food, I had no idea whatsoever of the possibilities.

    I also like the dogs a lot. One looks like our one and only dog, long gone now, but she lived almost 18 years.

    have a wonderful New Year: much better than 2020!

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • We had one Jack Russell that lived 17 years, I am hoping Buck can beat that – I am so incredibly attached to this little one, I cannot quite think of him being gone…


  2. I doubt you will lose your readership if you don’t include doggy pics and stories, but as a fellow dog lover, I certainly enjoy seeing them. And yes, all it takes is one bad apple with bad habits….. like our Rocky Stop! Including marking territories when he moved in. He’s the one in the kitchen if I open a drawer. He’s 9 pounds, but his stomach often looks like that of a pregnant cow after he rummages around outside, and vacuums inside. I’ve never known a dog who loves food so much. In any case, those molds are beautiful, and it was fun to see your tools, since I know nothing about what you do to create your culinary beauties. Here’s to a fabulous new year, to you and Phil and the doggies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pregnant cow! Oh that is too good! yeah, that’s how much Buck loves food – actually Bogey does too. Oscar is the only one who does not even come near the table when we are eating. He acts as if he’s not that interested… odd pup

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, wasn’t this the best thing I could read first thing in the morning on Jan 1, 2021! I love your fur babies. We have two and one of them is named Buck. Buck(y) also struggles with his weight and weighed 105 lbs when he was first rescued. He’s now a svelte 83 lbs and counter surfs when I turn my back for 30 seconds.

    Of your goodies you shared, I also have a few comments. I laughed out loud to see your sprinkle collection in the box. Before I finished reading, I thought she got nothing on me because my collection is quite a bit more than you showed. Then I finished the rest of the story. Haha, we are alike!

    The ginger grater – I used to have one of those; in fact, I made them for friends when I worked in ceramics. I found a better way, if you’re interested. Since I use A LOT of ginger, I buy about 1/2 lb of it and put it with a tablespoon (or so) of water and blitz it till it’s completed minced. Then I put into an ice cube tray and freeze. I have grated ginger anytime I like it w/o all the fuss. It was my ‘ah ha’ moment of 2020. LOL

    Luster dust shadow kit – LOVE! I’ll be getting one very, very soon.

    Super fine tip edible marker – see above statement.

    Orange, lemon, lime oils – also love these and use regularly.

    Grate tip (pun intended) to get rid of annoying points on macarons.

    Rose petal jam – I’ll be looking for this at Marshalls! Ditto re: blood orange vinegar. I have many, many flavored vinegars but never thought to use them in a ganache. How much would you add in general to get the right flavor profile?

    Cookie Stencil Genie – best invention ever for cookiers. If I made decorated cookies, it would be my number one purchase (after an air gun, but I already have one of those. LOL)

    I love your 2021 version of your kitchen. Keep up the good work.

    I have that exact spatula and it’s my go-to for macaronage. Sorry yours was eaten. LOL They carry them at Smart & Final if you have that store near you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I did that ginger thing many years ago and totally forgot about it…. it was pretty awesome, my problem is that I kept it in a large container and that was a mistake, almost impossible to scrape it while frozen. I should do it again and portion like you did

      Sprinkles – I would be ashamed to show them all, so I think we understand each other quite well, and we are “on the same page” he he he

      ganache – for a 250g dark chocolate ganache (plus whatever amount of cream you use according to your goals) I added 1/2 tablespoon of balsamic but of course each product will be a little different, best to use less, taste a bit and adjust

      and the spatula, I ordered another one from amazon on the same day – there is simply NO WAY I could exist without it. How about THAT for Drama Queen???? 😉

      Happy New Year, and here’s to more and more baking in 2021!


  4. Love all your cookie molds and those cookies you have made! Seriously beautiful. As are your pooches! That ginger grater looks intriguing but like you, I feel like I have too many gadgets. Please have a safe and happy new year!


  5. You have a great looking kitchen with lots of lovely things and 3 amazing helpers. I continue being amazed at the exquisite desserts you produce esp the macarons and various decorated cookies.

    Even more amazing is the continuing enthusiasm you show for perfecting your baking craft. I hope to rediscover some of that love of baking, and cooking in general, in the New Year as I get closer to that magic number ’65’ and plan on leaving the work force and the stresses involved in the teaching field.

    Have a safe and happy New Year.


  6. Well it has taken me three long reads to absorb your New Year’s post to us so am somewhat late in wishing you a fairer, happier and more secure year than the one which has just departed. I have found it difficult, right across the board, to use the word ‘happy’ at the moment – methinks a lot of unplanned, unwanted and unpleasant is still ahead of us in varying ways across the globe. Coming back to your hearth and home – nope, the boys did not have it all their own way thus time around . . . .tho’ I send them all virtual pats and truly feel for Bogey QT and his paw misery !!! You made me smile with your exquisite orchids at the start . . . I loved Phil’s beautiful mold find especially and was interested in all else . . . including that robot vacuum. Grrr !!! I have wanted one forever to be my helpmate in multitasking on busy days ! Unfortunately, relatively smallish rooms with previously owned large-scale furniture and different height floor coverings area-to-area simply say ‘no’ to the idea ! I can see how frustrated even an electrical apparatus would get . . . Meanwhile, thanks for everything during the year . . . keep healthy, keep smiling and keep baking those beautiful Springerle cookies . . . . (Bogey – here comes a big hug !!) . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am really amazed by how much we are using the Roomba, we just release it in different places (including the basement) and it forces us to organize things better, as the floor must be clear for access to all corners etc. You would laugh to no end if you saw me and Phil, on his very Birthday, Roomba under our bed and me peeking from one side, Phil peeking from the other, watching it clean…. (we are easily amused)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Happy New Year to you all! How I love those pups! Interesting how all dogs have such different characters. My previous dog would eat anything that wasn’t nailed down but the little fellow I have now is not food driven at all – with the notable exception of roast turkey! Another one we had was a paper addict – he didn’t consume it, just left confetti everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Please don’t get rid of the pup pictures! They are a light note in the current dark days. What will they do when you have to go back to work. I think all our pups have gotten used to use being around the house more.

    Your baking and decorations are beautiful. I don’t bake but I love the intricacy of your skill. I wouldn’t turn down a cookie but I would hate to eat it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. hi sally
    thanks so much for joining in this month. lovely to see you. and so many good things in your post. love the elephant and the springerle mould. and yes to rose petal jam, and the citrus oils. the vinegar sounds delicious. i always have half a dozen sorts in my pantry. so useful. and your Xmas decorated cookies are so pretty. and of course hello to the dogs. gorgeous fellas! I just read your vaccination post from 2015. loved it!! thanks for the info. have a great year.


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