And another year starts!  I am feeling more energetic than ever, so be ready for a lot of cooking, a lot of baking, maybe some more daring culinary projects coming from this bewitched spot.  I start 2018 inviting you for a virtual stroll around our kitchen, a tradition started by Celia and now hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. Stop by their virtual spots to say hello, will you?

And now, grab my hand and let’s get this party started!

Gift… So many gifts to show you, I feel I could almost do a full IMK post just with the goodies we’ve received for the past three months.

From Ms. A & Dr. S, our grad student & post-doc couple in the lab…

Addictive in a delicious way: Dry Samosas. You probably know too well how amazing samosas are?  Well, in India they turned them into snacks you buy ready to enjoy. This particular kind is super spicy, which is good, because one or two are satisfying, no need to go on until you reach the bottom of the bag…

Straight from India, from our student Mr. A, very nice sweets, the round, orange ones are made with besan flour, and are called Besan Ka Laddoo.  Sweet, exotic, wonderful, but my favorite is the other one, Kaju Katli made with ground cashews and milk, The edible silver leaf decoration makes it so elegant… It is simply divine!

From Uzbekistan, a beautiful tea set offered by the parents of our student, Dr. Y.  In my ignorance, I knew nothing about the sophisticated way tea is enjoyed in that country. Apparently, these authentic sets are hard to find, so I am forever grateful for having received them as a gift. You can read all about it here. And a very similar tea set is shown in the article. It made me feel on top of the world!

From our friend Cindy, the most colorful spreaders known to mankind. Don’t you think they have my name written all over? I knew you would agree… And do you see the green plate they are laying on? That was a gift from Cindy when I started my blog! How cool is that? Almost 9 years ago…

Still from Cindy, the latest cookbook by Christopher Kimball, in his new phase after leaving America’s Test Kitchen. The book is simply great. If you don’t have it, you need it.

My friends definitely know me well… another colorful offering, coming all the way from England! Our friend Denise sent me this planner, perfect for the list-maniac I am. Pages and pages to make lists, notes to self, stickers… I adore it! Confess to inaugurating it a couple of weeks before Christmas (sorry, Denise!).

From Phil, a new coffee mug from our favorite British ceramic artist, Mary Rose Young. Full disclosure: I broke one of our old ones, and almost had a fit, because Phil had given it to me years ago. He immediately went to work at ebay and within a few days, surprise surprise!  I know, I am a very lucky wife…

From a very dear friend Heather, from California, persimmons from her own backyard! She and her husband are amazing gardeners, you cannot imagine how many tomato plants they harvest every year in sunny California, and all sorts of veggies. These persimmons were the best we’ve ever tried.

From one dear departmental colleague at KSU, Ms. B…. sweets she made herself. Does she know I am crazy about white chocolate? Perhaps… I tell you, these are (ahem… were) amazing!

From our dear friends Marijo and Vlad, two – count them two – bottles of a balsamic vinegar that will make you go weak in the knees.  I swear I want to make a filling for macarons involving roasted strawberries and balsamic vinegar. I must go to work on this very important endeavor.

From Phil, the most amazing early Christmas gift (it was delivered a few days early)… an electric smoker!  We had enjoyed great smoked food during a visit to one of our friends in Michigan, and flirted with the idea of getting one. Well, there it is, sitting in our patio, a brand new Cookshack, great match for our home, aka The Love Shack..   (wink, wink). We’ve already enjoyed a couple of recipes and soon I’ll be sharing them with you.

And that wraps up the gifts we got since my last virtual tour through the Bewitching Kitchen… didn’t I tell you I could pretty much do a full post with them?  But, let’s move on…

In Our Kitchen…

Before the great meteorological disaster of 2017 (aka arrival of winter), we managed to harvest all the basil and the peppers produced in our backyard, thanks to the gardening efforts of my beloved husband.  I processed all the basil (trust me, it was a lot, the photo doesn’t show all of it), and made little portions of basil with olive oil, a touch of vitamin C to keep it nice and green. Then, when we need to use basil for a salad dressing, a sauce, or to turn it into real pesto, we are pretty much ready.

In our kitchen….

Phil’s new obsession… Jams from Maury Island Farm… he’s found it for the first time at a Trader Joe’s in Portland, OR. It was a single-flavor type, strawberry jam. The moment he took his first taste, he was completely obsessed by it. Went online, bought some more flavors, and ended up offering it as a gift for several of our friends. Even though I don’t care at all for jams, I had to try it because he would not take no for an answer – “Sally, you HAVE to try this, you will love it… trust me…C’mon, just a tiny bit”  And so I did. Indeed, it IS very nice.  I could macaron-it at some point…  (sorry, I have my own obsessions, as you may have noticed).

In our kitchen…


Two items to add interesting flavors to desserts… such as macarons, maybe? You’d think? A pumpkin spice extract (which I already used for macs a couple of months ago), and bergamot essential oil. Apparently it is a wonderful match for blueberries, so you can predict what will happen in our kitchen at some point. Essential oils are very strong, one or two drops will be more than enough to flavor a buttercream, a ganache,  a custard. Fun ingredients to play with, which I learned from a great cookbook called The Sweet Spot.

In our kitchen…

A new cookbook, very beautiful, it comes in a box wrapped in thin paper like a special sweet boxed in a store in Paris… I suppose you won’t be surprised that it comes from Ladurée, the legendary macaron maker, but the book covers quite a few other French delicacies…

In our kitchen….

I guess you can call us easily obsessed? We were watching old episodes of The Great British Bake Off on youtube and in those early years they offered little tours around UK. In one particular show they focused on Scottish shortbread. Phil remembered seeing boxes of those at our local Marshall’s. To make a long story short, he stopped by and grabbed one box. Then another. Then I stopped by and bought one “for him.”  Yeah, we’ve been enjoying those very very much. In small doses, but with certain regularity, I must admit. They melt in the mouth. They make me happy. I like being happy. End of story.

In our kitchen….

Talk about an exotic ingredient!  This is it. Poha,  a flattened rice from India. Have you ever heard of it? Thanks to our graduate student Ms. A, I bought a bag. And have been researching recipes. Stay tuned…

In our kitchen…

I blame my obsession (there we go again) with The Great British Bake Off on many of the items in this post. One more for you, stem ginger. Apparently very common in the UK, it is ginger cooked in a simple syrup and gives unique flavor to desserts. I was wondering how to obtain it in the US, until one day I saw one bottle (yes, just one) at our Marshall’s. Gotta love that store… shortbread cookies, stem ginger, exotic extracts, it’s a cook’s dream! My first recipe using it will be a lemon tart that got amazing reviews by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, when one of the contestants made it.

In our kitchen….

A bag of candied orange peel. This is one very important ingredient for panettone, and one that can make or kill the recipe. I know that it’s possible to make my own, but having a good product available makes it a lot easier. This one is really nice, the taste is fresh and bright and the texture perfect.


In our kitchen….

Another ingredient I am looking forward to using soon… chestnut puree… yeah, sounds very special and of course could even be geared towards the making of a certain French delicacy made with almonds and egg whites…

In our kitchen…

A special, sturdy wooden spoon, simple but mandatory tool to make choux pastry.

In our kitchen…

Talking of choux pastry… Some éclairs did happen… but I need a little more practice before sharing my adventures with you. Still, they turned out quite mesmerizing to some….

In our kitchen…

A little single-function gadget, which normally I would not be too wild about. But this one is a green bean slicer. We eat green beans with almonds quite often, and Phil loves the texture they get when prepped this way. We found it at ebay.  If you’d like to see it in action, here is an 11 second video featuring the resident George Clooney. Better than the original, obviously.

In our kitchen…

Could not resist bringing this home.. purple, one of my favorite colors, and the message? Perfect!  Well, the only way to make it better would be with “children” instead of “child.”  But I am not too picky…

And since the word dog just popped up…

I am forced to allow our pups to bark their piece… Without further ado,  let’s see what the Magnificent Trio has been up to in the past three months…

Bogey continues to feed his reputation of The Greatest Destroyer of Balls and Dog Toys

Although Oscar thinks his methods are better, and he does it with a lot more sex-appeal….

Whereas others? Others have class and dignity. Much needed in this world, if you ask me.

Bogey is always ready to play (photo taken at 6:05 am)…

and, truth be told, there is one toy he never managed to destroy, a back massager that was never born to be a dog toy, but I highly recommend it if you have a pup with excessive enthusiasm around…

The pups have been through many great moments… like the anticipation of Turkey Day

and its unavoidable consequences….

Exercising their fast reflexes…

Chilling out with Mom…

Being immortalized on a plate…
(we are still searching for one for Osky, so far no luck!)

But he doesn’t let that bring him down. He’s
The Bad Ass Who Shall Not Be Bothered

As it is often the case, into every life a little rain must fall… and for the pups, that also applies… we’ve had a few trips…


Yes, the kennel happened, more than once…

But they know we always come back to rescue them to their forever loving home….


That is all for now, folks… We hope you enjoyed this sort of long virtual tour through the Bewitching Kitchen…



ONE YEAR AGO: Happy New Year In My Kitchen!

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

THREE YEARS AGO: And another year starts…

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: January 2014

FIVE YEARS AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

SIX YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye









































It’s been three long months since I last invited you for a virtual tour of our kitchen, the event initiated by Celia and now hosted by Lizzy from Bizzy Lizzy Good Things. So, tighten your seat belts, because there are lots of goodies to talk about…

Starting with gifts…

I am not sure this qualifies as a gift, but I will go with it. I entered a drawing over at Lisa is Cooking a couple of months ago, and to my absolute delight, I won!  It is a gorgeous, oval-shaped All-Clad pan, perfect to sear and cook fish.  It is so beautiful, I smile every time I look at it…  Not only it works great for its intended purpose, but I’ve used it to sear halloumi cheese. O.M.G. Wait for a blog post on that one…

panThank you so much, Lisa!  Love the pan….

From our dear friend Ines…


A classic cookbook from the one and only Dorie Greenspan… A must-have for sure, I know I would be getting it at some point. Resistance would be futile. But now I don’t need to. HA!

From our friends Denise and Hélio, shipped all the way from England…

The best chocolate in the world! Valrhona, in different levels of cocoa, to match your mood… or your recipe!  Such a thoughtful gift… The only problem is preventing “someone” from devouring one bar or two when I’m not paying attention.

From C & C, the coolest couple in L.A.


A set of soapstone vodka drinking glasses. Phil loves Chopin vodka, and they also sent a huge bottle. The glasses are from a company I like a lot, Uncommon Goods. Check them out, they have very unique things.

From my sister Norma, back in Brazil….


A gourmet mustard, infused with a very special Brazilian fruit, called “jabuticaba.”  I love the fruit, and the mustard is superb!  It has a delicate touch of sweetness, and the taste is quite unique.


From my niece Raquel back in Brazil…


A beautifully crafted box for my teas!  The top mimics the pattern of the sidewalks in Rio de Janeiro, every Brazilian recognizes that pattern… Looks like waves…  And now my teas are in perfect order!

From my perfect match…

Two more coffee mugs from our favorite pottery artist, Mary Rose Young…  He keeps searching on ebay, and I keep welcoming them in our kitchen…

My Christmas gift to myself… just because….

This little teapot has a thermometer on the lid, and you can brew each type of tea (green, herbal, black) at the optimal temperature. It is very stylish, and works like a charm…. I am in love!



In our kitchen…


A few exotic ingredients I got over at the Oriental market we have in town. For the most part inspired by a couple of cookbooks I am in love with: The Saffron Tales and Taste of Persia. I got black chickpeas, culinary grade rose petals (swoon), pomegranate seeds powder (how could I resist?) and a couple of spices that are very important in Middle Eastern cuisine: angelica powder and advieh (Persian spice mix). Can hardly wait to play with them all…

In our kitchen…

‘ve heard a lot of good things about this store called “The Spice Lab.” But their stuff is very expensive. The other day I stopped at Tuesday Morning in town, and was surprised to find this big bottle of Himalayan salt for sale, very cheap. It has black pepper in it. Sprinkled on top of flank steak cooked medium-rare it is to die for.

In our kitchen…


These are some tasty crackers! Served with home-made hummus it is a garbanzo bean feast for your taste buds… Love it. I think they have several kinds, I’ve seen it plain and this one with black olives. Salty, quite addictive. If you have a chance to grab a bag, go for it.

In our kitchen…


A new (to me) grain that I bought after my friend Elaine raved about it. Still waiting to try my first recipe for it, I am sure it’s something I’ll love. You can use it as you would farro, for instance, in stews, as a risotto type prep, or even cold in salads. Stay tuned.

In our kitchen…


Holiday napkins… How could I resist these? Look at that doggie! Poise and elegance, just like our pups… Well, maybe not quite…

In our kitchen…


A red platter found at Marshalls. It was love at first sight. They had it with a reduced price tag, I paid 5 bucks for it, if you can believe it. It is so festive, perfect for the holiday season, but I will be of course using it all year-long.

In our kitchen…

Butterscotch extract. Yes, you read it correctly. This heaven in a bottle exists. One word for you, macarons. Are you smiling yet?

In our kitchen…


Four perfectly round low-carb Ricotta, Lemon & Lavender pancakes, a recipe I was very excited to try on a Saturday after a nice, albeit a bit chilly morning run. Oh, you only see an empty plate? What’s up with that, you may ask?

Full disclosure: Said pancakes were left unattended for 3 and a half minutes while I went upstairs to grab my phone to take a picture of them. I should add they were in the center of the island, a spot that we considered safe from canine paws. We were proven wrong. A certain dalmatian that attends by the name of Bogey Quit That managed to push the plate with his nose (at least that’s what we think), all the way to the edge of the countertop, to very efficiently wolf them down.  And then you wonder why my hair gets a bit more gray each month (sigh).

Finally, very recently in our kitchen…


Great friends reunited, even if only for a few hours…


Due to a lengthy series of canine-induced grievances, I seriously considered banning the four-legged creatures from showing up in this segment of In My Kitchen. But then…

oskypeter11Sir, you seem like such a nice man…
Could you please convince Mom to let us say hello to her readers? 

Reluctantly, then… I complied.


I have nothing to add. Still hurts me to remember.

Oscar cannot reach countertops and to be honest, he doesn’t care that much about food, which is pretty odd. But he causes grievances in other ways… like trying to dig his way to China from our backyard, forcing his humans to halt dinner preparation and deal with the muddy mess.



Now, THAT’S what I’m talking about!

Buck managed to hurt his front paw helping his brother in his path to China, so we put some booties on his paws to prevent him from licking the antibiotic ointment off. He was not thrilled.


His first attempts at walking with those booties were hilarious, poor thing, but he got used to them in a few minutes. Check it out here.

Giving Bogey a bath is a workout in itself, because to dry him, you gotta catch him first. Sounds a lot easier than it is… Glad I was not the one in charge!
bogeybathHe does look great once he is squeaky clean!

Oscar insists that he cleans up better than his brother.


But Buck is putting up a fight for the pole position…

I will let you be the judge of it, not taking sides!

Bogey has been bad lately. Really bad. From eating a bar of soap, to snatching my special pancakes, but the worst, the worst I shall tell you later. Never in a million years, we could imagine… well, I’ll stop here. You will have to wait for it.



Now, if you want to see three dogs on their very best behavior, all it takes is a sirloin steak, cooked medium rare, and Phil going at it with a knife.


That’s all, folks!  We all wish you a wonderful 2017!

We promise to be back with more cooking, more bread baking, more canine grievances, and throw in some cake baking to keep the adrenaline high…


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ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen: Happy New Year!

TWO YEARS AGO: And another year starts…

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: January 2014

FOUR YEARS AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

SIX YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye


To begin, begin…
(William Wordsworth)

Many food bloggers will list their most popular posts for the year that just ended. Many will talk about resolutions for the New Year that starts, or blog about healthy recipes. Nothing wrong with that. I actually look forward to reading these types of posts, even if I don’t always follow the trend.

So, what’s my take on a new year that starts?  I am not too big on resolutions or setting a particular starting point to change behaviors and attitudes,  but it is almost impossible not to get into a self-analyzing mode when a new year is about to say hello. I think if I had to offer a motto to go by, it would be: strive to become the best person you can be, in all aspects of your life. Leave a space in better shape than it was when  you arrived. Maybe all it takes is a smile, a compliment to someone, or doing some extra task you are not required to do. Pursue a personal goal you’ve been neglecting for too long. Volunteer for a cause you believe to be important, such as gun control. There will be a ton of stuff to be sad, upset, frustrated about, and you won’t be able to do anything about 90% of it.

Truth is, we are all impotent to deal with the horrors, the incredible level of cruelty that human beings can do to each other in the name of things often defined as sacred. We also feel helpless to deal with tragedy or serious illnesses hitting people we care deeply about. Obviously as we get older, we witness more and more of it. A feeling of impotence and despair can hit pretty hard sometimes. But that little space surrounding your body and your mind, you can have an impact on. Make it a positive one.

Anyway, another year starts. Quoting Tony Horton:

“Do your best, and forget the rest.”

and of course, no more cookbooks for me in 2015!


future(image from Wikimedia Commons)

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May 2014 bring a ton of happiness for you and all your loved ones!
If you like to set goals for yourself, try to make them realistic, so they won’t turn into a personal ordeal. Remember to enjoy the ride!

I thought a great way to start 2014 would be by joining the virtual party initiated by Celia many moons ago: her “In My Kitchen” series.  Stop by her site to see what other bloggers are sharing from their own kitchens.

In our kitchen….

Many gifts to start this virtual tour…

FoodProcessorA Cuisinart mini-food processor, great gift from a couple of colleagues at  KSU.  Works like a charm, and is powerful enough to grind nuts and spices into a nice paste.  Love it!

PepperGrinderA new pepper grinder, gift from one of my stepsons, I’ve been struggling with our old pepper grinder for 14 years, it’s one very temperamental gadget! This one, from Williams-Sonoma is stylish and functional,  I can change the coarseness with a simple twist.

AmericanCupA special cup for hot or cold liquids that my stepson gave me to celebrate my 20 years away from Brazil. Love it! Oscar takes a nap in the background, dreaming with chubby squirrels.
PearsIn our kitchen… A box of ultra special pears from Harry & David, sent from our dear friends and former neighbors from Oklahoma. They are by far the best pears I’ve ever had, juicy, and sweet.   I even used them in a special salad, a recipe that will be on the blog soon.  Stay tuned!
BrevilleIn our kitchen…. My gift to Phil for Christmas and his Birthday (12/27)… a sexy-red Breville espresso maker. Of course, it matches our Supernova stove, and brightens up our mornings!

In our kitchen.. a labor of love from my super-skillful partner…  It all started with these: a box of wine corks saved for years and years + a sheet of plywood.

For our home in Oklahoma, Phil made a wine cork board many years ago. He was just waiting for the kitchen hellnovation to be over to build a new one here,  bringing to our new kitchen something we missed from the old home.   My stepson was visiting us and  helped with the final installation.


Can you figure out what his design represents?  I can tell you it is very clever…
Cork Board

In our kitchen…. Black Volcanic Salt from Hawaii…  ever since I bought the new book by Anne Burrell and saw a recipe using this salt, I wanted to try it.  It has a smoky taste on top of the salty flavor.  Love it!  Plus it looks gorgeous sprinkled over certain foods like asparagus and sea scallops.

CitrusOlivesIn our kitchen... Citrus-Stuffed Olives.  These are amazing!  I almost passed them by at the grocery store, but one thing I’ve learned living here is that the products labeled as ‘Private Selection” from Krogers are not to be ignored.

In our kitchen… Little glass vials that are perfect to store those loose spices sold in bags.  Like the gift from my friend Gabi, a spice mix from Brazil… and some other goodies I had laying around the pantry in a less than ideal “living situation”.

compositechipsIn our kitchen… tapioca chips, something I had never heard of, found them in the great Asian market in town.  They are less greasy than potato chips, with a  slightly harder texture.  They are made from cassava (manioc) flour.  A product from India. I wonder if they are available in Brazil, since manioc products are so popular back home.

compositeCopcoIn our kitchen…  a great find by yours truly, on ebay.  Have you heard of a Le Creuset-like product from Denmark called Copco?  Well, these are not made anymore, they are vintage items that you can only find in auctions like ebay, or garage sales.  Their design is super-stylish and the quality of the enamel cast iron supposed to be superior to Le Creuset.  After patiently stalking many of these babies on ebay and watching them sell for small fortunes, I managed to snag this little baby for less than 40 bucks.   I was happy, happy, happy….

OatNoodlesCan you detect an impulse buy when you see it? I have no idea how to cook them (no instructions in the bag or online), or what they taste like. But they were too interesting to leave behind. Another fascinating product found at the Asian Market. They are packaged like soba noodles, but are made from oat flour. I am intrigued.


And now, it’s time for a message from our four-legged friends….

ChiefBedChief is very happy with his new bed. It is fluffy, a lot more comfortable to rest his tired bones. Two paws up! Well, four paws down, actually. Blissfully down.

LordBuck2Buck believes that elegance and poise will bring good fortune. He is also versed in Geometry & Statistics, and knows how to position his body on the spot with the highest probability of “food-fall”.

compositeOskyOscar was completely in love with his new friend, and wishes he would still be around to play with him. It’s ok, Osky, we all miss him! Let’s hope he will come back soon…  In the meantime, Oscar will have to settle for another of his favorite activities: making sure Mom is ok after her workouts. That Tony Horton guy is one mean master!

I hope you enjoyed this little tour around our kitchen and home! Make sure to stop by Celia’s spot – Fig Jam and Lime Cordial – to visit other kitchens around the blogosphere.

I would like to close this post with a message for the New Year, a text written by Neil Gaiman. I love it, and thank Rosa for sharing it on Facebook.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.


ONE YEAR AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

TWO YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

THREE YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye