In My Kitchen, January 2014

Wow! A New Year already and another In My Kitchen Post for January 2014. Shout out to Celia who is the host of this wonderful series!

My kitchen was quite busy in December. This year, I decided to make Spa Baskets for the women of the family and Kitchen Baskets for the families. The spa baskets were such fun! I got to play with making bath fizzies, lip balm, body butters and lotions. I had a blast.

We went to a holiday party where they passed out bags of organic produce as we left.

Burlap potato sacs

Burlap potato sacs

The bags were made of this nifty burlap that make perfect places to store potatoes in the cabinet. I am strangely drawn to them.

Like Joanne in her January INK post, I too got some things to cook hard-boiled eggs in only this package is called “Eggies” while hers are “Easy Eggs”. It doesn’t matter but I haven’t tried them out yet.

Eggies!

Eggies!

Tyler is in my kitchen! I swear he’s grown another inch!

It’s been wonderful to have him home. He goes back to grad school Saturday; we will miss him. Tyler's in the kitchen

In November, I started taking a class on Learning Herbs.

My herbal study nook

My herbal study nook

I got to set up an area just off the kitchen to house all my new ingredients, tools, tinctures and all the great fun stuff needed for the lessons. I really like my little herbal nook.

Tinctures brewing

Tinctures brewing

Spring can’t come too early, I want to plant some herbs!

In my kitchen is an entire drawer devoted to tea.

The Tea Drawer

The Tea Drawer

Since getting the tea pots and cups out of storage, we’ve been making and drinking a lot more tea. I change teapots every week or so. We have two pots brewing almost all of the time. One for regular black tea which gets used mostly for iced tea or the occasional cuppa with a cookie or two.

The other pot is for an herbal tea, kept under a cozy to keep it warm as long as possible. Lately the tea finding its way into the herbal pot is Earl Gray. I love it with a thin slice of lemon and a small bit of sugar, in a china cup , of course. If I could find fresh bergamot, I’d be in heaven.

A student of mine and his wife took a trip to China and brought me back this lovely tin of “Fruit Tea” with the strainer.

Chinese Fruit Tea, love the label!

Chinese Fruit Tea, love the label!

Inside the tea looks like diced dried bits of various fruits and roses. It has a delicate sweet taste that is quite pleasant! I put the spent bits of tea out for the birds with their winter food. They like the fruit! Doug told me the tea was for “graceful aging.”

Since we’ve started drinking more tea, I’ve realized a new tea cozy or two would come in handy and have decided to make a couple. I haven’t started that project yet. This morning, I saw the adorable knitted tea cozy on Celia’s IMK post with knitted olives! I know I won’t be that elaborate, or even knitted but I’m looking forward to seeing what happens. I used to quilt and embroider and tailor so who knows what the tea cozies will look like!

Cozy Update: Celia tole me the knitted olive cozy belongs to Glenda! So if you want to see it, go here to check out the neatest cozy! (Sorry Glenda!)

Anyone out there ever make a tea cozy? What do yours look like? Do you have a pattern or tips you can share?

It’s about to get real cold here in the next week. Down to 8°F which to me is unthinkably cold. I’ll be staying in so maybe working on those cozies may come about.

Here’s to drinking more tea!
Chinese Fruit Tea

Chinese Fruit Tea

Keep comfortable where ever you are.

I’m ready for a great new year, how about you?

In My Kitchen, December 2013

Amazing how quickly this year has passed. I want to express gratitude to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting this wonderful series of In My Kitchen glimpses from around the world. It is fascinating to see what is different and what we all have in common.

Being the first of December, it is time to start using the “holiday china”.

Lenox Holiday China

Lenox Holiday China

I  use it the entire month of December and put it all away on New Years Eve. Actually, the china gets pulled out while putting away Thanksgiving dishes. That’s because we seem to use every dish in the house for Thanksgiving and while everything is out of the cabinets, it’s easy to reach the holiday stuff before replacing everything we just used.

I’ve been studying “The Taste of Herbs” course and have been ordering many herbs for the exercises. The ‘homework’ has resulted in making some of my favorite lip balm. I’m one who can’t leave home without lip balm. It’s always in my pocket. Since it is something that goes on the lips, it is also ingested so I prefer using all natural products.

Lips All Natural Soothing Balm, my own lip balm!

Lips All Natural Soothing Balm, my lip balm! Yes, I actually made it.

And wouldn’t you know, it can get expensive and not always ‘perfect’. So one of the assignments was this lip balm. I ordered the tubes online and made a small batch. This stuff is amazing. It is my new go to solution for all my lip balm emergency needs.

Ever made Chai  at home from scratch, rather than bought tea bags?

Homemade Chai Spiced Tea

Homemade Chai Spiced Tea

Well, if you want a home with an amazing aroma, and an entire body warming that feels like a great big bear hug, you’ve got to try making your own. I simmer the concoction in a crock pot on low either overnight or during the day. If you simmer it on the stove top, it is ready to sip and feel dreamy after an hour.

We’ve been enjoying using my tea pots and tea cups. They were in storage for so long, it’s nice to be using them again.

Cups and pots on the shelf

Cups and pots on the shelf

Each day we make at least two pots, one traditional orange pekoe black tea and an herbal tea. We sip them both hot or cold, sometimes we need to make more, depending how cold it is outside.

I am gearing up for Christmas with gifts and cookies from my kitchen.

A plate of Christmas Cookies

A plate of Christmas Cookies

I’ll be doing posts on ideas and things as the month progresses. I refuse to be part of the shopping hoards, just refuse. I need to be practical though because how many would actually appreciate a bottle of Burdock Root Tincture?

A pile of herbal supplies

A pile of herbal supplies

In My Kitchen October 2013

Last week we were swimming at the lake, today we are wearing light sweaters and sipping hot tea.

Ahh! Welcome Autumn!

After canning my rear end off last month, its nice to look at something other than mason jars and canning pots. I’m quite sure we will enjoy these things come cooler months.

I got to pull some of my china and other “stuff” out of storage and put into use this lovely oil dispenser. Pottery Oil Can

I really like this one. It was hand-made by an artist in Boca Raton, FL. I adore using well made pottery.

Pumpkins and squash fill my counters. Ready to eat this season.

These various squash found their way into my basket while shopping this weekend.

These various squash found their way into my basket while shopping this weekend.

I love roasting squash and serving it with butter, salt and fresh pepper. Yum.

Yesterday I made Butternut Squash Soup for lunch with Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwiches pressed on the Panini press.

We have a lovely pumpkin and fall squash display on the front step.

Stacked Pumpkins on the step

Stacked Pumpkins on the step

I topped one with moss and succulents for accent;

Pumpkin with Moss and Succulents

Pumpkin with Moss and Succulents

we are progressively eating our way through the rest!

While this October edition of In My Kitchen was due a good while back, I’ve been quite busy working on a few things.

For one, I studied my butt off to take the certifying exam for “Certified Dietary Manager” or CDM. I’ve been cramming medical nutritional therapies and medical codes into my head and now that I’ve passed the exam I have more free time to blog.

In My Kitchen now are 6 molds of goat cheese draining,

Goat Cheese Draining

Goat Cheese Draining

2 bread loaves rising, lobster tails, stone crab claws and Mimosa’s for lunch because today is my birthday!

And it’s time to start working on November’s In My Kitchen! Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, Hosts this wonderful gathering each month. Visit and join in!

Egg Plate – Concave or Convex?

Glenda, this is for you!

I couldn’t see how to attach a photo in the comments, so here’s an entire post on the egg plate’s optical illusion.

One of the features in the In My Kitchen post this month is an egg plate. The photo shows the plate without any eggs in it which makes the indents look more like convex domes rather than concave indents.

Celia pointed out this is due to monoscopic vs. stereoscopic vision. (One vs two, as in our eyes) It is because of this we have optical illusions.

Plain egg plate, concave or convex? Do you see indents or domes?

Plain egg plate, concave or convex?
Do you see indents or domes? I feel like reaching in and pushing them all down! Notice the flowers, are they indented or relief?

 

And this one?

Egg plate with an egg in it, now do you see indents or domes?

Egg plate with an egg in it, now do you see indents or domes?

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs

Here is a link to Celia’s paper dragon that seems to follow you around the room as you move. Again it is due to mono/stereoscopic vision and the camera lens.

Fun!

Do other people have egg plates too?

In My Kitchen, September 2013

I nearly choked when I saw how many months have passed since I did one of Celia’s In My Kitchen Posts! Since this happens to be a long weekend in the US, I’m making time to do one this month.

Here goes!

In my kitchen this summer, is an egg plate that holds 6 deviled eggs. I loved the small version. Now Robert and I can have deviled eggs without having to make a whole dozen just to fill up the plate. (Yeah, I’m obsessive like that) I think it’s funny how the depressions in the photo have the optical illusion of being convex rather than concave.

6-egg Egg Plate

I’ve been pickling up a storm this summer.

Vegetables ready to pickle!

Vegetables ready to pickle!

Pickling Cukes

Pickling Cucumbers

I hope we have enough to last us this  winter. I’ve made Sweet Pickle Chips, Half Sours, Dill Pickles, Pickled Cauliflower, Pickled Beets, Pickle Relish.

When I was done pickling, I made jams.

Simmering whole fig and lemon jam

Simmering whole fig and lemon jam

Blueberry, Lemon and Thyme, Strawberry Basil Balsamic and Whole Fig and Lemon.

Strawberries and basil

Strawberries and basil

Blueberry, Lemon and Thyme Jam

Blueberry, Lemon and Thyme Jam

These two were also in the jam batch: Peach, Pepper with Ginger, and Mint Jelly. I used natural pectin by using grated apple peel.

Grate apple peel for pectin

Grate apple peel for pectin

While the canner was out, and to take advantage of 4 gallons of boiling water, I also threw together a batch of Heirloom Tomato Salsa, Homemade Ketchup, and Dijon Style Mustard and our own processed Horseradish.

Horseradish Root

Horseradish Root. See the sprout on the end? It sprouted so now it’s growing in the garden. In a pot since I understand it spreads and is hard to control. I just cut the sprouted bit off, stuck it in some dirt and before too long it grew.

Processed Horseradish, for the perfect Bloody Mary!

Processed Horseradish, for the perfect Bloody Mary! I love horseradish on most any protein with a squirt of fresh lemon

Homemade Condiments

Homemade Condiments

The “PING!” of cooling jars seemed to be non-stop for several days.

Now I have to find somewhere to store all these jars!

I found this great bowl and sauce server in the cabbage Leaf patters by Majorca Ware; I just love it!

Cabbage Leaf bowl and Sauce Server

Cabbage Leaf bowl and Sauce Server

What’s happening in your kitchen?

Sweet Pickle Chips

Sweet Pickle Chips

In My Kitchen, March 2013

In My Kitchen this month are many things.

Freshly made croissants

Freshly made croissants

Croissants, Hamentashen, Almond Cakes, so much to give away!

My hairdresser got the croissants (some had lovely chocolate in them),DSC_0043 Hamentashen went to many Jewish friends, IMG_5083Almond cakes went with the TV crew and one got scarfed by us smothered in lovely berries and vanilla yogurt.

There is a Peruvian Blue potato that has  sprouted so I decided to try to grow it. So far, there are at least three areas

Sprouting Blue

Sprouting Blue

“rooting”.  I think these may get grown in a bag, if I can find one, to help with harvesting later.

There is a Vita-Mix in my kitchen this month, to “play with” for school. Also included is the large Whole Foods Cookbook they produce for using the Vita-Mix.

My assignment is to come up with something to use it for next semester when my class is “Global Cuisine”. One thing I have learned is that I really like my food with texture, and I like to chew my food rather than drink it.

Visiting Vita-mix

Visiting Vita-mix

I made a wonderful tasting marinade – Citrus Ginger Marinade – that we really liked the flavor but not the emulsified texture of the marinade,sauce or dressing it could be used as. I’ll play with it for a little while longer to see what else it can do, but so far, while I like a powerful blender, it isn’t something I’d really use that often. Smoothies aren’t really my thing, eventually pureed soups need something more interesting than a smooth texture. My opinion, you may love your Vita-Mix! If so, please comment on how you use it!

Perennial herbs are beginning to show signs of growth as winter wanes.

Emerging Garlic Chives

Emerging Garlic Chives

We only had one good afternoon of snow last Saturday and it was all gone on Sunday. But, the tarragon, chives and rosemary are all showing signs of Spring.

I love eating Rosemary flowers! Right now the plant is bursting with the pale purple flowers.

Rosemary Flowers

Rosemary Flowers

Sage flowers are next and then chive flowers. Gather a bunch of them from your herb garden and pop them onto vegetables, salads or garnish almost any dish with them. The flavors are amazing, be sure to linger over it, notice it and enjoy.

Shout out to Celia over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting the monthly In My Kitchen Posts!

There are many more things simmering away in my kitchen so I’d better grab my camera and get busy documenting.

March 2 and it has been snowing all morning. 2 weeks ago we had “thunder snow”. Local weather lore says if you have thunder snow, you will have another snow 10 days to 2 weeks later.

We had thunder snow 2 weeks ago and this morning we have lovely big fluffy flakes that have been falling all morning. The ground is far too warm for anything to stick so it is really nice to watch.

IMG_5103

Butternut Squash Soup and Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwiches for lunch.

Spring is near!

And that is what is happening in my kitchen this month.

In My Kitchen February 2013

I missed out on last months post, mainly because I ran out of time and the other was due to being “suspended “ on WordPress. (Yeah, I’m such a bad girl!)

This In My Kitchen posting neatly summarizes what has been happening in my kitchen over the last month.

At Soup in Sunday I bought another bowl, for condiments this time.

The new bowl

The new bowl

There has been lots of information going around on how to grow things from kitchen scraps. I love scallions and have a hard time getting them to grow. My dad on the other hand gets things to grow for him just by thinking about it.

"Hydroponic" Scallions; They will need dirt soon!

“Hydroponic” Scallions; They will need dirt soon!

So scallions are now growing in vases for easy clipping and almost instant regrowth. They will need soil soon, I’m sure

In my kitchen this month are these lovely measuring cups.

Hedge Hog measuring cups

Hedge Hog measuring cups

You can use them as scoops too

You can use them as scoops too

How cute are these? They were a Christmas gift from Robert’s daughter Kim. Aren’t they adorable!

I started taking a class (just because) on Nutritional Concepts and Medical Nutritional Therapy so the awareness of what we eat has been in the spotlight. Eating/using  a lot of butter (I love butter!) is one thing that has changed. I used to keep at least 5# of butter on hand for baking but now, I hardly have any. If I want to bake, a to run to the store would be required. This step alone has really put a damper on the treats available in my kitchen.

So now baking sweet treats involves some actual thinking about it rather than just jumping in and baking my heart out.

I am teaching a baking class this semester so the advantage of this is I get to play with tons of dough and make all kinds of things all day long. When I come home, the treats aren’t staring me in the face demanding “eat me!”

However, Celia’s Chocolate Nutella frogs had me locating the jar of Nutella and slathering it on to  a Trisket and topping that with a few pistachios. Thankfully there are no incriminating photographs!

In my kitchen this month is a  new (to me) book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice  authored by Peter Reinhardt.

I find it fascinating. Additionally, I bought a couche for when I make bread. the need has been there for a while, I’m just getting around to buying one.

Bread Baker's Apprentice and floured couche

Bread Baker’s Apprentice and floured couche

One of our friends is a friend of Peters. I am hoping to get the book signed one day.

In my kitchen are some great new lenses for the i phone!

i Phone lenses

i Phone lenses

There are three of them, wide-angle, fish eye and macro lenses. I am really looking forward to having the time to really learn how to use them effectively.

I’ll do a post on the shots the camera makes with the different lenses.

Here is a shot using the macro lens

Using the i phone macro lens

Using the i phone macro lens

So, now it is time to go make bread for the week. Celia’s pain-viennois and Richard Bertinet’s method of kneading the sticky dough mass until smooth and elastic seems just like the therapy I need today.

I’ll make some with chocolate!

Gratitude goes out to Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting this fun series of peeking into one another’s kitchens each month.

Promise, I’ll get back on track and not be so late  submitting next month.

Pain Chocolate

Pain Chocolate