Painted Pumpkins

It's so Orange

It’s so Orange

So by now, anything orange is out. In decorating for the holidays that is. I bought an armload of pumpkins with the intention of eating them before Christmas decorating began.

Lo and behold, I found five mini pumpkin stragglers stuck in on a side table centerpiece. They were so, well, orange.

My colors this year are lime green and burgundy. Quite traditional, don’t you think? These pumpkins, while still nice shapes, firm and pleasing to look at, they were still so orange.

So I painted them. I painted them gold and silver. The silver required a white base coat to cover the orange but the orange on the gold ones became an “inner glow”.

Getting the paint job

Getting the paint job

After the paint dried (three coats, thin ones) crackle glaze was applied and allowed to dry overnight. Then the next morning, I smothered them with Mod-Podge Gloss Medium to make them shine.

Painted Pumpkins Lined up to dry

Painted Pumpkins Lined up to dry

After they were dry, I put them in the middle of another table arrangement.

Personally, I think they dress up nicely for the holidays!

Silver Painted Pumpkin

Silver Painted Pumpkin

Part of the Painted Pumpkin arrangement

Part of the Painted Pumpkin arrangement

Sauteed Kale with Bacon and Onions

Today I picked up some fresh kale, just picked from the garden, from a friend. Since I was eating alone tonight, I decided that  some bacon would be on the menu. Robert doesn’t eat bacon but I sure do!

Sautéed Kale with Bacon and Onions

  • Fresh Kale
  • 2 slices thick smoked bacon
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar
  • Fresh ground pepper
Fresh picked kale

Fresh picked kale

To start, remove the stems from the kale and wash well. Allow it to drain while preparing the bacon and onions.

To make this dish, fry up some bacon, try not to burn the pan because you want the lovely brown bits on the bottom of the pan for all the flavor. In cooking terms this browned bottom is called “fond”.

When the bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan, place it on some paper towels to drain. For this dish, the bacon is best cooked to done but not crispy. However is you want it crispy, have at it.

If there is a lot of grease, pour some off. All you need is a small bit to saute the onions and kale in, not too much.

Slice and saute some sweet onions in the bacon pan. When the onions are soft, deglaze the pan with a splash of malt vinegar, bring to a boil, and loosen all the fond from the pan.

Saute onions in the bacon pan

Saute onions in the bacon pan

Add the washed and stemmed kale, bring to a boil and saute the kale until done. The liquid should be almost gone, but not all gone.

Cut the bacon into matchstick sized bits and fold into the kale. Cook until the kale is tender, about 4-5 minutes.

Grind some fresh pepper and serve.

I just filled a bowl and ate it. If you like, add a dash of hot sauce.

I love greens this way!

Kale with Bacon and Onions

Kale with Bacon and Onions

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!

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

How to Make Mustard

Learning how to make mustard can be as simple as mixing a few things together or as complicated as soaking a few seeds. It’s not hard at all to make.

Make Your Own Mustard

While there are many different kinds of mustard you can make, this is a kinder gentler mustard, not too pungent.

All it takes is mix the ingredients together, heat until thick, bottle and cool.

Simple!

Make Basic Mustard

  • 1/2 cup dry mustard powder, Coleman’s is my favorite.
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark doesn’t matter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (non-iodized)
  • 1/2 cup good quality white wine vinegar

Measure and mix everything in a heat-resistant bowl until a thin smooth paste forms.

Place the bowl over a pot of boiling water to make a double boiler, heat the mixture until it becomes thick. As the mustard thickens, whisk so it remains smooth.

Use a silicone spatula to get all the mustard in to a clean glass jar.

Allow to cool, cover, label and store.The mustard needs to sit for at least 2 hours before serving. The mustard will also “mellow” as it ages in the refrigerator.

Homemade Ketchup, Mustard and Relish

Homemade Ketchup, Mustard and Relish

I haven’t had a jar around long enough to tell you how long it lasts.

Use it as you would any mustard but be warned, it will spoil you from buying  processed store-bought mustard.

Dip a tasty sausage into mustard!

Dip a tasty sausage into mustard!

Decorate your hot dog the homemade mustard

Decorate your hot dog the homemade mustard

More mustard recipes coming soon such as whole grain mustard, Dijon style, champagne honey, and pear/apple mostarda.

Learning how to make mustard is an easy thing to do to reduce your consumption of processed foods.

Basic Mustard

Basic Mustard – Got a Pretzel?

Proud of Potatoes!

IMG_6510

A few of the potatoes, there are red, yellow fingerlings and Peruvian blue growing.

I harvested a few potatoes two weeks ago and was quite proud of my potatoes!

Somewhere, I read that they are supposed to dry a couple of weeks before you eat them so I put them in a bag and let them be until last night.

Look at the inside!

Look at the inside!

Scrubbed potatoes were cut and placed into a pot with cold water and put over high heat. Once the water boiled, salt and herbs were added to water to steep flavor into the potatoes as they cooked.

You can learn more about potato varieties on my post: All About Potatoes

Boil until the potatoes are done, drain and season with snipped chives and a small dab of butter  or olive oil if you like.

YUM!

YUM!

The Peruvian Blue Plant

The Peruvian Blue Plant

The flower

The flower

IMG_5631

So far, it has been quite fun to grow the potatoes. The Peruvian Blue potato plants are actually quite lovely. I’ve kept adding more soil to mimic “hilling” and hopefully, this will result in decent results meaning actually having some potatoes.

I showed the first harvest to Robert he said “looks like its going to be a long winter.” I do hope there are more potatoes to find when it is time! It’s like finding buried treasure when it comes time to dig them out of the ground.

I grew the Peruvian Blue in a 55 gallon purple Rubbermaid bin that I drilled drainage holes in the bottom to drain excess water.

Someone told me that the bags rotted, a pot would have to be quite large so since I had a bunch of bins, one became the container to grow Peruvian Blue Potatoes.

Someone else told me of a large garbage can with a door cut into the side so you could open the door, reach in and harvest a dinners worth of potatoes, close the door and the plant carries on.

How cool is that idea?!

I’d have to think of how to build something though as I’m not to sure everyone would agree on a garbage can with a door cut into the side, growing a potato plant as part of the landscaping.

Now if I lived on a farm . . .

My tomatoes are pitiful. Blossom drop plague. But at least we have a few potatoes.

Simple (And Great Tasting!) Bean Burger

Bean Burger

Bean Burger; Can you see it under the mushrooms and onions? I had to take the picture before Robert got to the table and didn’t have time to “present” the burger for photos.

This simple and great tasting bean burger is quite simple to make and is versatile enough to become many things besides burgers.

  • 1 15-ounce can dark red kidney beans
  • 2 cups cooked old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 tablespoon dried vegetable flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1/2 cup ground pistachio or almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg’s liquid aminos (the salt)

Start by cooking the oatmeal. Include the garlic, onions and dried vegetable flakes if using for flavor.

Drain the beans, rinse and add to the oatmeal.

Combine the oats and beans and all the seasonings

Combine the oats and beans and all the seasonings

Process the mixture in a food processor until things are coarsely chopped up. You do not want to make a paste.

Coarsely chop

Coarsely chop

Form burgers using a scoop for even sizes.

Scoop for even size

Scoop for even size

Pat the burgers with additional pistachio or almond meal to ‘dry’ the outside of the burger. This will allow it to become nice and golden brown.

Using a very small amount of coconut oil or olive oil in the bottom of a saute pan (or use a non-stick pat and go fat-free) place the bean burgers into the hot pan, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.

Saute them until golden brown on one side, flip and cook on the other side until golden brown too.

You can finish cooking them in the oven or hold them in the oven until you are ready to eat.

Delicious Cooked Bean Burgers

Delicious Cooked Bean Burgers

Remove the burgers from the saute pan and then add sliced mushrooms and sliced onions, saute for 2 minutes, then add 1-2 tablespoons of water, continue cooking until the water is evaporated.

Serve the sautéed onions and mushrooms over the bean burgers.

This evening, we served them on a bed of fresh spinach with a side Caesar salad. I couldn’t eat it all!

If you have leftovers, you can saute the  crumbled burgers with some diced onions, chili powder, cumin and diced tomatoes to make “taco meat”. Fill corn tortillas and finish with your favorite taco toppings.

I find this can be used nearly the same as you would ground meat. Make chili, tacos, casseroles etc.

Enjoy!

Bean Burger topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms

Bean Burger topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms

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

How I Eat Eggs, and You?

My favorite way to eat eggs for breakfast is to cook over-easy in a small amount of butter.

1 slice of really good bread, lightly toasted and torn into bite size pieces, not buttered, just dry.

I like to tear the toast in the kitchen. Then all I need at the table is a knife and fork. It would be rather crude to tear the bread the way I like it at the table. Besides it would be really crummy and need a vacuum to clean up.

A1 Steak Sauce

A1 Steak Sauce (Photo credit: AtomDocs)

A1 Steak Sauce is essential.

Toast the bread, cook the egg over-easy season it with salt and pepper.

Slide it onto a plate with A1 Steak Sauce, surround the egg with the torn bread.

The A-1 gets warmed slightly in the microwave first so it isn’t refrigerator cold.

Take each piece of bread, dip it into the sauce and then into the yolk. Make sure you get some white on every bite.

If planned correctly, you should have just enough sauce and egg for every bite of bread.eggs

Now this is not to say I don’t enjoy eggs other ways but sometimes I get a hankering for an egg just this way. I find it so satisfying.

This is kinda like “How do you eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup?”

How do you eat your eggs? Just curious. . .

 

What do you Keep in your Pantry?

Let’s talk about kitchen staples. I think it would be fascinating to see what other cultures and kitchens around the world always keep in their pantries.

Depending upon your cultural background, your staples will be different. Being located in the American South there is some influence of region like grits and corn meal and green tomatoes.

I am studying Nutrition Concepts and Medical Nutrition Therapy to gain a Certified Dietary Manager Certification. One of the concepts we study is the difference in food choices based upon religious or cultural influences.

Having lived in many places in the world, there are things I reach for and things that are added due to a cultural influence, like couscous and preserved lemons for instance.

However, there are things that are always there, ready to make something to eat.

  • Fresh garlic – if I get too much, I confit the garlic and reach for that too.
  • Onions – from red to sweet to shallots and scallions
  • Parmesan cheese – a block so it can be shredded, peeled or grated
    Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, the true "par...

    Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, the true “parmesan” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     

  • Eggs – large organic ones. I love Araucana eggs which are also known as “Easter Egg chickens” since their eggs are colored pink, blue and green naturally
  • Canned organic tomatoes and tomato sauce
  • Potatoes – both russet and new potatoes; sometimes sweet potatoes, but not always
  • Basmati rice and brown rice blends
  • Fat free milk – I like to drink it (yes, still!)
  • Half and half – for coffee and tea
  • Fresh European Butter – Plugra is my brand of choiceHomemade Lime Tart Butter & Eggs
  • AP and Bread Flour – for making breads, tarts and dredging
  • Canned beans – black, dark red kidney, garbanzo, white kidney beans
  • A variety of vinegar – apple cider, rice wine, red wine, white wine, balsamic (expensive and less so) and basic white vinegar
  • Oils – olive, vegetable and toasted sesame (because I like Asian food so much!)
  • Chicken stock
  • Chicken and Turkey meat
  • Canned tuna and salmon
  • Anchovies and sardines
  • Dijon mustard
    English: Dijon mustard Maille Originale, 213 g

    Dijon mustard Maille Originale, 213 g (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     

  • Yeast
  • A variety of pasta shapes – spaghetti
  • A jar of Dukes Mayonnaise – yes, I should make my own but this is so I don’t have to
    Only Duke's for Tomato Pie.
  • Some kind of pickle or pickles – either I make them of buy some. Gotta have a pickle with a sandwich
  • and new to my pantry is Coconut oil for saute
  • Last but not least, a variety of salt and pepper

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What do you keep in your pantry? Please share!