IN MY KITCHEN, YIN AND YANG

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Following the footsteps of Celia (Fig Jam and Lime Cordial) who started this party now hosted by our friend Maureen (The Orgasmic Chef), I invite you for a small virtual tour of our kitchen.

Starting with gifts, this month I have some pretty special ones….

…from our friend Dr. SL, fantastic selected goodies he got in a recent trip to Paris: truffles galore! Truffle mayo, truffle mustard, and truffled salt.  What have I done to deserve such great friends?

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…from my beloved husband, a surprise gift for Mother’s Day…

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When I opened the package.. here’s what I found: a huge platter, heavy-duty, very very beautiful… it makes any salad into a stunning meal!

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He keeps showering me with gifts from this artist, Mary Rose Young…  How about this for cuteness in coffee cup format?

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Or these adorable salad plates? Each a little different from the other… Irresistible!

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Our dear friends Karl and Virginia left a package in my mailbox at work…  Inside I found such a thoughtful gift for our home! It’s in our kitchen, where it definitely belongs…

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But, I can give gifts too!  This one I gave to Phil just because…  He loves to have a black and tan after playing golf, and this tool makes a perfect one.

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In our kitchen…

applecake

A very delicious apple cake made for one of the receptions we hosted last month.  The recipe, already in the blog, is the most popular in the site!  And for good reason, it is wonderful and so simple to make…

In our kitchen…

rollingpin

A rolling-pin I ordered all the way from Poland, after reading this post from Mimi… could not resist it. Stay tuned for a post on my first attempt at Polish Sugar Cookies.

In our kitchen…

heart2A nice heart on my morning cappuccino, made by the resident barista… I married the right man, obviously…

In our kitchen…

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My new addiction: Go-Chu-Jang sauce, the Korean darling of the food world these days. I resisted as much as I could, but when I saw the product for sale in our very own grocery store, I said what the heck, and brought it home. I love the paste so much I also bought the sauce which is like catchup on steroids.  I used the paste on sautéed ground beef for a flavorful lunch. If you are like me and resist all sorts of trends, do yourself a favor and cave to this one.

In our kitchen…

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Canned tomatillos and canned yellow tomatoes, both products bought with specific recipes in mind.  As soon as they went into my pantry I lost track of the recipes.  The one using canned tomatillos I suspect was in a cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen, but the yellow tomatoes?  I am clueless. Clue-less.  If anyone suffers from the same type of culinary amnesia, let’s have a virtual hug…

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This time our dogs are silent.

It is with a very heavy heart that I share the sad news that Chief was put to sleep on May 26th, a decision that crushed us, but had to be made. We will always remember him at the top of his game, rarely sitting still for a photo. In this shot (Summer 2001), his personality shines. He had just spotted a squirrel on the corner of the backyard, and one nanosecond after the picture was taken he was gone so fast our eyes could barely follow him.

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In my mind, the two inseparable buddies are finally together again…

 

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Chief
February 05th, 1999 – May 26th, 2016


ONE YEAR AGO:
Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

THREE YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

FOUR YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

FIVE YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

SIX YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls

IN MY KITCHEN, APRIL 2016

It’s already April in Australia, you know…   

😉

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It’s been a while, my friends… my last contribution to IMK was in January, but better late than never. Here I am to give you a little tour of what’s been happening in our kitchen for the past three months. This fun monthly event began years ago thanks to Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, and is now hosted by the one and only Maureen, from Orgasmic Chef.  Whenever I participate, I like to start by talking about gifts… So let’s get this party started, shall we?

From our graduate students who came back from a trip to India…

GoodiesCollage

These are dangerous goodies. Bake Bites are addictive little morsels with a punch of spice and just the right amount of heat. I usually allow myself to have four and then move the bag away, which is tough to do, but I believe it builds character. Soan Papdi is impossible to describe. It is sweet, it melts in your mouth, but it has a super complex mixture of flavors. If you think about edible perfume, that could be a good way to put it. It sounds odd, I admit, but it is absolutely delicious.  We cut very small slivers, and savor them in complete silence. If you ever find yourself in India, search for these babies, and put a few bags in your luggage.  ;-)

From Phil…

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One more coffee cup for our collection… he keeps searching for pieces from Mary Rose Young to be available online, and whenever he finds a great deal, he is quick to act. This one is particularly adorable with the flower on the handle.

From my stepson Alex…

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Two amazing books from The Modernist Cuisine, that include a beginner’s kit to play with molecular gastronomy. I do molecular biology for a living, and can tell you one thing, these gastronomic experiments are a lot more fun and involve zero frustration.  Stay tuned for a drink using Blue Curaçao “caviar” made with calcium lactate gluconate.

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IN OUR KITCHEN…

opener

This very simple gadget is a life-saver! I saw it recommended by America’s Test Kitchen and decided to order one. If you stumble on that bottle that simply will not open, get this baby and be prepared to be amazed. It works by releasing the vacuum so that the lid opens with no effort. I was skeptical. Then I needed to open a bottle of roasted piquillo peppers when Phil was away and the dogs were obviously of no help whatsoever. Worked like a charm! You can order yours with a click here.

IN OUR KITCHEN…

matcha

A very good quality matcha tea powder. Of course, I go into eye-rolling mode with the benefits listed on the package. Natural this, natural that… Natural mood enhancer? Yeah, right. But apart from the hype, I love the taste of matcha and this in particular is better than all the ones I’ve tried. Smooth, perfect with some yogurt or added to a smoothie.

IN OUR KITCHEN….

labna

Found this labna in a special grocery store in town. OMG! I inhaled that whole thing in less than a week. Phil did not even have a taste. I made sure to describe it to him as salted yogurt, and left it at that. He twisted his nose, and I said to myself “Labna, you are mine, all mine….. “  (insert evil laughter here).

IN OUR KITCHEN….

datesyrup

From the same store, date syrup. Another OMG, this is delicious and you can use in many ways: marinades, added to yogurt, smoothies, salad dressings… If you like pancakes in the morning, a drizzle of date syrup could be a nice change from the usual maple.

IN OUR KITCHEN….
molasses

Last acquisition from the same store.. pomegranate molasses.  I always have some in my pantry and my old bottle had just a tiny little bit left inside. Time to bring a new one, this brand seemed nice enough, haven’t tried it yet.

 

IN OUR KITCHEN….

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A jar to keep my sourdough starter in the fridge and also at room temperature during feeding times. I love the large opening, because my 1/2 cup measuring cup fits right through it. Less flour mess = more joy in the Bewitching Kitchen. Found it at amazon.com, recommended in a bread baking forum.

IN OUR KITCHEN…

cilantro

A great way to store cilantro that I also learned in a cooking forum and put to test. Cut the stems close to where the leaves start, add the bunch of cilantro to a container with a lid, and just a little bit of water inside.  Close the lid and store the whole thing in the fridge.  Amazing how much longer the cilantro lasts, in perfect state!  I imagine it would work as well for basil or other herbs, but cilantro is the one that gives me the toughest time. It goes funky before I have a chance to use it all.

IN OUR KITCHEN…

simplestShrimp

The simplest and most succulent shrimp!  Made sous-vide. You can even start from frozen, increasing the time of cooking slightly.  I prefer to defrost them first, add a little bit of butter, salt and pepper to a bag, vacuum seal.  Into the sous-vide the bag goes at 135 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes. Open the bag, drain it if you want, or use the liquid as part of a pasta sauce or risotto.  Am I allowed to use one more Oh Em Gee in this post or would that be too much?  Oh, well…

 

IN OUR KITCHEN…

honey

Truffle honey. Yes, you read that right.  I haven’t tried it yet, in fact I’m waiting for the right opportunity to crack this special bottle open. I read that this honey drizzled over a nice Roquefort is a non-stop ticket to paradise. Will let you know once we try it.

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And now it’s time to allow our furry friends to say hello, they’ve been quite anxious to be on the blog after three months away from the spotlight…

 

chiefyboy

Chief, after the milestone of turning 17 years old, has had his share of health issues. He is hanging in there like the trooper he is, even playing tug-of-war when he feels up to the challenge.  Mom knows she has to be gentle with him, the days in which she could hold the toy up in the air to see Chief furiously dangling without letting go are over…

buck bath

Buck got tricked big time. His Dad offered a Happy Easter hug, but the hug turned into a strong grab followed by a fast walk to the laundry room. There, some soap torture was waiting for this brave Jack Russell. How unfair is that?

BathBuck

That does it!  I am never EVER leaving this bed.
To think I’d worked so hard to develop my unique fragrance, and now it’s all gone!

 

dapperduke

I’ve always suspected I am the Special One. See? I get professional grooming, and have a bow-tie to prove it. No laundry room dirty maneuver works for me. I am the Dapper Duke of Manhattan!

 

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Not so fast, Dapper Duke!  I get to play with my ball on the sofa when Dad is not around.
Who’s special now?

oskytripleDo I really need to answer?

 

Actually, Dapper Duke, we think you do need to get some answers ready….

NaughtyWhat has the toy done to deserve this?

(He wouldn’t even look up…. Guilty as charged!)

OskyupsetWell, first let me say that the toy started it all, but you were not around to see what IT did to me. And, even if I got carried away in my revenge, nothing justifies Mom getting all hysterical and cutting short our walk because Dad pointed out that a bunch of “cool bats” were flying over us. I have no idea of “cool bats” are, but they certainly ruined my evening.

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That’s all for now, folks!  Hope you enjoyed this little tour of our kitchen…

Until next time, keep calm and cook on!

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Spring has Sprung with Suzanne Goin

TWO YEARS AGO: Chai Brownies

THREE YEARS AGO: Pomegranate-Molasses Glazed Carrots

FOUR YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Peach Glaze

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

SIX YEARS AGO: Spring Rolls on a Spring Day

IN MY KITCHEN: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

FLOWERS

First of all, I’d like to wish all my readers a wonderful New Year! To start things off on a great note, I join the virtual party started by Celia and now hosted by Maureen from The Orgasmic Chef, sharing a little bit of what goes on around one of the most important spots in any home: the kitchen!

GIFTS GALORE!

I have quite a few gifts to share with you, starting with a wonderful surprise I got in the mail shipped all the way from Australia. Celia, the angel behind In My Kitchen sent me this gorgeous letter opener. It sits right by our cork wine screw board, because I always open my mail right there in the kitchen. I love it! Not only because I am fond of all things shiny, but because Celia made it herself.  THAT makes it ultra super special. Thank you, Celia!

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From a friend from KSU, a batch of home-made macarons, wrapped in a beautiful package and delivered right to our door!  Can you spell lucky? Lucky Sally? Yeap. That just about sums it. They were beyond delicious, my favorite was the pink one filled with strawberry jam. Jam made from scratch, in case you are wondering.

macarons
From my stepson and his wife, C & C also known in the blog as “the coolest couple in LA”, a custom-made apron. Not just any apron, mind you. This is a Hedley & Bennett apron. Oh, my….. I can only hope I can make it justice. One thing is certain, I am not baking any cakes wearing it.

apron
From my dear hubby, a new food processor was my Christmas gift!  My Cuisinart was 18 years old and started acting his age, almost failing on me as I was making hummus for one of our recent receptions. I love this 7-cup model from KitchenAid, very smooth to operate, the plastic bowl is quite sturdy. Made perfectly sliced potatoes for a gratin in seconds, allowing the mandoline to stay in the cabinet and my fingers stay unharmed.

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Also from Phil, another find from his adventures on ebay, two cute coffee cups, mini-tiny size, perfect for a shot of espresso or what we call a “mini-ccino”.  From a favorite artist, Mary Rose Young. That woman loves color almost as much as I do…

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Finally, from our dear friends from Brazil, Vanda and Claudio, a wonderful platter they brought with them all the way from São Paulo (as you read this we are having fun in the ski slopes of Silverthorne, hopefully with all the bones in correct alignment).

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In our kitchen….

pieplate

A new, shockingly red pie plate that was on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond last month. I have a hard time resisting things that are bright red, as you know by now….

In our kitchen…

piebird

Have you ever heard of a pie bird???? I had not until I saw this apple pie recipe from Alton Brown. I had to have one. The pie bird works by allowing steam to escape from the inside of the pie as it bakes. Plus, it looks simply adorable.  Here you can see its shape better.

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After getting it, I found out you it can also be used in savory pies. Any pie that calls for slits cut on top can be instead made with the little bird in the center.

In our kitchen….

pieweigths

Since we are on the subject of pies, I finally upgraded from a bag of beans (which I’ve used for 6 years straight) to real pie weights. Also found on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond.  Haven’t tried them yet, but intend to do so in the near future.

In our kitchen….

nonstickpan

This is actually several months old, but for one reason or another I forgot to include in previous IMK posts. When I started watching America’s Test Kitchen on TV, I could not help but notice they use this pan all the time. It is their number one recommended non-stick pan and I must say it is awesome!  I don’t have enough adjectives for it, See it in action working on a batch of zucchini noodles…. This particular recipe won’t be in the blog until I tweak it a little, though.

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In our kitchen….

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Duck legs and rendered duck fat from d’Artagnan… for a duck confit made for Phil’s Birthday dinner… on the blog sometime in the near future, I promise! It was quite likely one of the best meals I cooked in 2015.

In our kitchen…

oddegg

A very odd-looking egg… no idea what happened with this egg, in fact if anyone has an explanation for its wavy shell, please let me know in the comments.  I ended up discarding it, as when I broke it the egg yolk did not look quite right. Better safe than sorry.
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In our kitchen….

yorkshire

A batch of Yorkshire pudding that was our side-dish at Christmas Eve… made by my dear husband, who also prepared a Mexican-Style Prime Rib Roast (already on the blog, click here for recipe).

In our kitchen….

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A new cookbook!  How could I resist it, when it was written by John Amici, the man behind a blog I’ve been following for a long, long time? The book is just like John, classy and warm, and showcases authentic family recipes he’s been collecting over the years. You need it. Did you know that?  To order, click here.

And finally, in our kitchen…

friends

Great friends! Great times! 

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But, as usual, our pups are anxious to say hello….

Chief had a few health problems, so he prefers to be left alone to rest this month.  I am sure he will be back next time to join the fun…

Buck shows off his style and elegance in authentic holiday mode…

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Whereas Oscar shows a slightly different concept of style and elegance….

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And he definitely does not learn from his mistakes. Here he is covered in burrs, once again having to go through the complicated process of combing them off. Quite a bit of whining and complaining, as if Daddy was skinning him alive (eye roll to the ceiling).

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But, of course, we all know how vocal Oscar can be….

 

Osky

 

That’s all for now, folks! More to come as the New Year moves along!

 

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ONE YEAR AGO: And another year starts…

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: January 2014

THREE YEAR AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

SIX YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye

IN MY KITCHEN: NOVEMBER 2015

Flowers

In My Kitchen is a fun virtual event conceived by Celia, the hostess of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, a great food blog that goes beyond food and recipes. Way beyond. I’ve been a follower for a long time…  So what’s it all about? Bloggers from all over the world compose a post about what’s going on in their kitchens.  It is a monthly event, but I usually participate every 2 or 3 months.  I like to start talking about gifts, and here they are…

From a sweet couple, Virginia and Karl…. the sweetest of gifts!

dulcedeleche

I have a special project in my mind for this dulce de leche… a little involved and challenging, but maybe I can Zen myself into it.

From our friends from California, Deb and Jeff….

sardinhas

A beautifully wrapped gift, that once opened, revealed a gourmet item they bought in a recent trip to Portugal, home of my ancestors. Quite often sardines are packed in oil, these come with a perfectly smooth and delicious tomato base.

From our niece Carla…

brrazilianpeppers

Two tiny cute bottles of very special pepper, produced by Xingu indians from the North of Brazil. Red and white pepper, not too hot, but intensely flavored.  I was afraid the bottles would break in the plane, but they arrived in perfect condition…

From our niece Raquel…

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A perfect little wooden board for our kitchen! I am sure it will help me during times of cake-baking…

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In our kitchen….

green tomatoes
Green tomatoes harvested before the first frost (sad couple of words), now waiting in the kitchen, some might end up nicely red, but all will find their way into our meals one way or another…

In our kitchen….

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Our latest addiction… mint tea!  This addiction started with a tip from our dear friend Denise who lives in England. If you feel any type of digestive discomfort after a meal, sip a cup of mint tea. It is almost magical, quite amazing how soothing it is…  Thank you, Denise!

In our kitchen…

pinchbowls

A set of pinch bowls… I’ve always flirted with this type of small bowls that are often lined up in cooking shows and fancy cookbooks photos. They were on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond, and I brought them home. Take a look at how cute they look “in action.” Ingredients for a black pepper chicken curry, to be blogged about in the very near future. I promise.

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In our kitchen…

sprinklesA bottle of shockingly pink sprinkles…  for a special recipe that was part of our Halloween party. Stay tuned…

In our kitchen…

meltingwafers

Melting wafers to use for coating candy type concoctions.  Also used in a recipe for our Halloween party.  It was scary good…

In our kitchen….

bananachips

Something very special brought by a friend from India to our Halloween party. These are banana chips, slightly salty and absolutely addictive!  Unfortunately they are not available in the US, they brought them from India just two days prior to our get together. Sad to inform that they are gone…  (sigh)

In our kitchen….

coffeecup

A coffee cup with my favorite actress of the past, Audrey Hepburn. If that doesn’t take your cappuccino to Tiffany’s level, nothing will…

In our kitchen…

pingas

Several bottles of Brazilian pinga (sugar cane distillate) brought from Brazil during our recent trip. Actually the second bottle to the left (Nega Fulô) we’ve had since the trip in 2014.  We could not find it this time, but brought a few bottles from different regions of the country. Caipirinhas, anyone?

In our kitchen…

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Phil is always finding interesting jams and preserves to pump up his lunch.  Sour Cherry Preserves from Casa Giulia are on top of his favorites list right now.  He loves to take a Wasa bread or a nice cracker, spread peanut butter on top, add a smear of sour cherry preserves, and top it all with peanuts. Keeps him satisfied until dinner time.

Speaking of lunch: apparently, I am not always as lucky with my own preparations… Allow me to share. Apologies in advance…

disaster

A culinary disaster of epic proportions…  The monstrosity above was intended to be a spaghetti squash fritter nesting a sunny-side egg. The recipe is from a very reputable food blog, but the photo and description of its deliciousness on that site have little to do with my outcome.  Granted, I made it at lunch time in a complete hurry, but… don’t try this at home, folks. It was probably one of the worst things I’ve ever made, tasted almost as funky as it looked.  I posted it on my Facebook page and one of my friends remarked that it looked like a bird getting ready to fly. Too bad it did not fly away for real.  Oh, well… Keep calm, and go on cooking…

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And now, it’s time to let our furry friends say hello.

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Chief will be exactly 16 years and 9 months old when this post goes live. He still sleeps a lot, perhaps most of the time, either on his comfy soft bed or sometimes outside in some type of improvised bed designed by his brothers. He used to dig tunnels underneath fences and show up yards away on the other side, but cannot dig anymore with his weak arthritic legs. Clearly, his instinct to get comfy is unchanged by aging.

OskyMessedup

Hi, my name is Osky, and I made my Mom late for work because after five minutes outside I came back covered in burrs.  Mom says I am a big whiner and a sissy because of my crying as she cleaned me. She also said the neighbors would call the police thinking someone was being murdered in our home.  I agree with my Dad, Mom is the real Drama Queen around here.

Whatdoyoumean

What do you mean, GET OFF THE COUCH???? I am not sure I get it…  wanna play fetch?

ComfyOsky
Osky would never leave his brother sin by himself… the moment Dad went to the lab on a Saturday morning, he found his way into his favorite armchair… Obviously, Mom made him jump off after she took the picture. “No dogs on furniture” is a tightly enforced rule. Obviously.

Before I say goodbye, here is a video showing the pure joy of  Oscar and Buck when we finally picked them up from the kennel, after 16 long days away… Chief can be heard furiously barking in the background, as he knew we were there and wanted to come out too…

That’s all for now, folks!  Until next time, 

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ONE YEAR AGO: Helen Fletcher’s Oatmeal Cookies

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, November 2013

THREE YEARS AGO: The Lab Move and New Beginnings

FOUR YEARS AGO: Honey-Oat Pain de Mie

FIVE YEARS AGO: Carrot and Leek Soup

SIX YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana 101

IN MY KITCHEN: SEPTEMBER 2015

Roses
Here I am to invite my readers for a virtual tour of our kitchen, following the party started by Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial many years ago.  It is such a fun series of posts, lots of bloggers (including Celia herself) participate every single month, which I find quite amazing. I am more of a “every couple of months” kind of person. I like to start my tour with gifts, and I’ve got a few to show you…

From our friend Cindy, who came to visit and make macarons in the Bewitching Kitchen….  Yes, French macarons, which shall be on the blog soon. In fact, we had a great cooking weekend, with a surprise tour through Brazilian cooking. Stay tuned!

CindyChoc

Cindy brought us three types of artisan chocolates from a small company in Nashville…  My favorite was the Salt & Pepper Buttermilk White, different from anything I’ve ever tasted, sweet and tangy, absolutely delicious. Phil’s favorite was the one with coffee bean, although we both also loved the chili and cinnamon. Coffee and chocolate. Cannot get much better than that, right? Thank you, Cindy, not only for the chocolates, but for driving all the way to The Little Apple to cook with me…

From Kristy (who blogs over at Eat, Play, Love), who came with her whole family for a short but fun visit on their way to Colorado…

CuttingBoard

A cutting board with a knife-friendly surface and beautiful design of olive branches… It is so beautiful, I have a hard time using it as a cutting board. Instead I place cheeses on top of it, for a stunning look. August was super busy in our kitchen, with so many distinguished guests!  I am sure most of my readers know Kristy’s blog and have seen her beautiful family cooking together. You absolutely MUST read their series of Chopped in which the girls compete against the boys. We had a blast with them, made small pizzas on the grill, and a breakfast of blueberry pancakes next morning before their departure.

Family

Mr. N, Miss A, and their proud Daddy after breakfast. And here we are in the photo below, with Kristy and I in exercise clothes, because I asked her to help me out with the infamous Crane Pose which has eluded me for over 6 years.  One day I’ll get there. One day… (sigh). By the way, Miss A can do pull-ups in the bar like nobody’s business!  Very impressive! And she goes from Crane Pose to head stand as if it’s a natural movement for human beings. Don’t try that at home, folks…

BackyardShotPlease disregard my oddly twisted leg position. Not sure what happened there. Must have been something wrong with the alignment of the stars..

On with with the gifts…

From one of our graduate students….

Caviar

The most amazing black caviar!  His Mom came for a visit and brought it from a special store in Pennsylvania where she lives. Phil and I shared it, fighting over the last bit. I made bread for the occasion. This stuff is pure gold. Black gold…  So smooth and mild!

From Phil, a surprise gift…

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This cup was made by a British artist called Mary Rose Young. Years ago I found two matching cups at a Pier 1 store and brought them home. They became our special cups for the weekend cappuccino. Sure enough, yours truly, the one with fast careless fingers, broke one of them. Major bummer.  I searched everywhere for a replacement, with no luck.  One day Phil gets something in the mail and much to my amazement it was one of Mary Rose’s cups. He managed to find it on ebay.  He is the ultimate ebay-detective…  Ok, they are not matchy-matchy, but close enough. In fact, I think they make a beautiful pair… Compatible but unique, each in their own colorful way. I love her work!  You can check her pottery with a click here.

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In our kitchen….

BreadCloche

A new, kind of fancy  bread toy for me…  After reading rave reviews about it on a discussion group for artisan bread baking, I had one of those attacks of impulse buy and got this bread cloche at amazon.com.  The lure of Amazon Prime free shipping is hard to resist, particularly for an item that is so heavy. I love the red color, but that probably goes without saying…  ;-)

In our kitchen….

BlackOliveRosemaryBread

My first production using the bread cloche.  I made one of the recipes that came with it, a Black Olive Rosemary Rye Bread.  Simple formula, commercial yeast.  Perfect to cut in small squares, toast, and enjoy with that tasty caviar as you maybe noticed in the caviar photo above.

In our kitchen….

Salmon

We are not brave enough to make sushi at home, it’s something we reserve for eating out, but whenever Phil finds great quality salmon for sale, he plays sushi-chef and we pretend we are in Tokyo.

In our kitchen….

seedlessJam

This was one tricky ingredient to find.  I needed to use in a particular recipe that shall be blogged about soon. 99% of what you find in stores contains seeds, and it is more like a jam, not preserves. I was about to give up and order online, but finally found this gem at our town’s Hy-Vee.

In our kitchen….

WasaComposite

We are quite fond of Wasa bread, but this type quickly became my favorite. Not easy to find, so whenever I spot it at the store, I grab a couple of boxes.  Light, crispy, great flavor, much milder than all other Wasa versions.

In our kitchen….

Broth

Small containers of chicken and vegetable broth.  I like the fact that they hold just 8oz, so for many recipes that’s all you’ll need. Open, use, call it a day. I must say though, that I get into intense eye-rolling mode every time I see the term “bone broth”, as if Paleo-afficionados “invented” it.  What’s wrong with calling them beef stock, or chicken stock like every single cook has done for decades? Noooo, let’s pretend it’s a totally different entity (triple sigh).

In our kitchen….

LittlePlates

These are very small, appetizer type plates, I found them at Marshall’s.  They have a nice pattern and of course the bright yellow is impossible to resist…

In our kitchen….

FarmersMarketSmall tomatoes from the farmer’s market, yellow and red, juicy and sweet….

In our kitchen….
Drum roll please, these are FROM OUR BACKYARD!

FromGarden

I can hardly believe these tomatoes are from our own garden!  Thanks to Phil, who brought 4 small plants home in early June, and patiently took care of them.  I stayed as far away as possible to avoid doing them any harm. Aren’t they gorgeous?  And we also got great results with Serrano peppers…

Serranos
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And now, let’s hear it from the three furry friends who keep the Bewitching Kitchen (and its surroundings) as a very lively place… Well, maybe not always lively, as you can see in these shots.

😉

BrothersSleep

Mom and Dad went for a trip to this strange place called Colorado and off to the kennel we went. It took forever, but one day they showed up and finally brought us back home. There is nothing better than a nice snooze in our comfy beds to celebrate life coming back to normal.   You can bet we are having wonderful dreams!

OskyBedtrouble

Now, of course,  our brother Oscar has his own interpretation of what a nice sleep involves.
We think he is a bit nuts.

OskyBonding

You may think I’m nuts, but “I” am the Chosen One, the One Who Bonds with Daddy. So there!

BuckSleep

Well, “I” am bonding with my Mom, even if it seems I’m asleep…
Note from Mom: this was really quite sweet.  I had to work from home one morning a couple of  weeks ago, and Buck’s routine was all changed. Instead of being outside with Oscar, he stayed in. The Real Chosen One, I suppose…  He had no problem adjusting to the change. Laid by my side and snored away happily for more than one hour!

Photobombing

Ok, I admit it. I’m not really bonding in this shot.
I am more photobombing, a skill I’ve been perfecting for years now.

Buck 1 x 0 Daddy, the photographer.

And to close this post, a couple of videos.

First we have Buck and his absolute passion for the hose and anything to do with water.  I would like you to notice in the background of the video, at the lower level of the backyard, a doghouse.  More on that after the video.

Anyway, while Buck is having all that fun, Oscar simply cannot get far enough from the action. He absolutely despises water, hoses, baths. Once the hose is shutdown, he peeks out, as if saying “is it safe to come out now?”  Priceless….

WaterWimp

But he has his chance to get excited too. Twice a week we go jogging before lunch. The dogs somehow realize  it is “the day”, and start going nuts even before I do anything like changing into my running outfit or grabbing their leashes. I believe they do read minds, you know?

Well, that’s all for now, folks!  I hope you enjoyed the little tour of our kitchen, and please stop by Celia’s blog where you can get a virtual tour of many kitchens around the world…   See you next time!

ONE YEAR AGO: Sour Cherry Sorbet: A Labor of Love

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen – September 2013

THREE YEARS AGO: Raspberry Sorbet at Summer’s End

FOUR YEARS AGO: When three is better than two  (four years with Buck!)

FIVE YEARS AGO: Grating Tomatoes (and loving it!)

SIX YEARS AGO: A Peachy Salad for a Sunny Day

IN MY KITCHEN: JULY 2015

Flowers
Once again it’s time to invite you for a tour of our kitchen, joining the great virtual event created by Celia, fantastic baker, superb cook, who blogs over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.   As I normally like to do, let me start with gifts…

From a very dear friend, a fantastic Rolls-Royce of a pan: an All-Clad skillet that does a superb job in many tasks, browning chicken pieces, sauteing mushrooms, making one of my regular types of lunches, sautéed ground beef or turkey with veggies (carrots, celery, zucchini). I use it several times per week, with a big smile each time.

AllClad1 allcladaction
From one of our departmental colleagues, the best gardener in Manhattan, KS, a huge batch of fresh dill… All portioned and frozen, amazing how well it freezes, we still had some from last year.

FreshDill
From our dear friend Cindy who came to visit last month, dried Barberries…. they have a very unique taste, and will be put to good use in a recipe I’ve had in my files for a long time

Barberries
From our friend Steve, the traveler extraordinaire, two gifts brought all the way from Saudi Arabia…  my beloved saffron, and a package of their outstanding dates!  I always get very worried when he travels to Saudi Arabia, it is such a complex society!  I would be afraid of saying something wrong, doing something wrong and getting in serious trouble. So, it’s always great to hear that his plane landed back safely in the US.

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From another colleague from our department, a huge batch of fresh sour cherries. Each year he invites us to go pick cherries from his trees.  We made a nice sour cherry sorbet last year, but this time I think I see a sour cherry pie in our future!

SourCherries

From Phil, a new rug for our kitchen, as a bottle of olive oil was accidentally broken on the old one and it resisted all our attempts to cleaning. It developed a stain that got worse and worse as weeks went by.  Who broke it? The resident food blogger. For the record, she was very sorry.

NewRug

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In our kitchen…

Preserves

Phil’s love for fruit preserves is quite obvious… his favorite of this group was the Blackberry Preserves…. the glasses are beautiful with the handle, and we find all sorts of uses once the jam is gone.  These bottles were available at our Marshall’s store in town.

In our kitchen…

Bowl

Another find from Marshall’s. A beautiful bowl, with a bit of a Moroccan flair.  I love the colors and its golden hue.

In our kitchen…

YellowPlatter

A large plastic platter that is perfect to take treats to the department. Very cheap, on sale at our grocery store. The bright yellow called my name, as you might suspect…

In our kitchen….

Chocolates

Phil loves to have a small square of dark chocolate with his cappuccino.  When his chocolate reserve is getting low, I like to surprise him with different brands of goodies, so he can try something different and maybe pick a new favorite…

In our kitchen…

Celery

The world’s largest celery stalk!  I apologize for the carbon footprints on this one, it came all the way from California to Kansas, but how could I resist bringing this beauty home?  Simply impossible.

In our kitchen….

Zucchini

Since we are in the subject of sins… Something I rarely buy, ready cut veggies. But, look at the perfectly diced zucchini!  It was on sale at our grocery store (Hy-Vee) for $2.20.  Life is too short to be virtuous all the time, don’t you think? A little culinary sin here, another there…  no big deal, right?

In our kitchen….

raspberriesA bag of freeze-dried raspberries… I have a great recipe in mind for this one… Stay tuned….  It is from a cookie book recommended by Karen, from Karen’s Kitchen Stories.  Did you know that cookbooks bought from recommendation of favorite food bloggers do not count against the “No new cookbooks in 2015?” Yeah. The amendment to the rule was made back in January. Sorry if I forgot to mention it.

In our kitchen….

Shirataki

This is probably an acquired taste, and will not please everyone. I’d heard of shirataki noodles as a zero-carb alternative for pasta, but until a few weeks ago I was unable to find it for sale in our neck of the woods.  Not the case anymore, two of our grocery stores have them all the time in three shapes: fettuccine, angel hair, and spaghetti.  You simply drain the liquid they are stored in, rinse the noodles well and warm them up.  They have a sort of strange smell as you open the package, but if you add a sauce or even just some butter and grated Parmigiano, it’s not bad at all. A good option for days in which I want to keep the carbs low.

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I close this tour with our canine friends who absolutely
insist on barking hello….

Chief

Chief is going through another tough phase, but I managed to snap this reasonably ok shot of him. He says “Don’t worry, friends, before you know it, I am going to be back chasing squirrels, show them who is the boss around our backyard.”

BuckApproved

Buck approves the new rug, and promises not to mark it, scratch it, butt-scoot it, or drop food on it (his Mom can take care of that part without his help).

AngelSleeping

How could Mom imagine I would do anything wrong to the new rug?  You can see I’m an angel! And, contrary to my brother, I know how to properly use a bed.

BedChallenged

Oscar is a lot more creative with it. At the time this photo was taken he had just gotten his summer shave and seemed a little upset about it. Maybe folding the bed is a way to show his displeasure?

GiveUsFood

Well, the real displeasure is having to sit here waiting for our food. Why is Mom playing with her camera instead of feeding us? Have we been that bad? I don’t think so. The backyard has been pretty calm lately, as far as I can remember…

ForgivenForever

Yeah, I think she forgot all about the skunk by now…
😉

Finally, I will share a little video from our visit to the research cows, 2 miles from home. The previous week I did not take my cell phone, and could not document the huge lick Buck got on the side of his belly from one of the less shy bovines.  It was priceless! This time he didn’t want to have anything to do with them, which is too bad, they absolutely love him!  Take a look by clicking here. It is short and sweet…  (I have zero patience for long videos, and I bet most people are like me).

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That’s all, folks!  Celia, thanks for the virtual party, and I invite my readers to visit other kitchens around the world by stopping at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, Celia lists all the links to the posts on the right side of her front page.

ENJOY!

ONE YEAR AGO: Sous-vide Pork Chops with Roasted Poblano Butter

TWO YEARS AGO: Roasted Strawberry-Buttermilk Sherbet

THREE YEARS AGO: Amazing Ribs for the 4th of July!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Baby Back Ribs on the 4th of July

FIVE YEARS AGO: Blueberry Muffins

SIX YEARS AGO: A Pie for your 4th of July

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?

IMG_0086 2IMG_0088

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….

IMG_7385

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. 

11235097-cartoon-character-skunk

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