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!

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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 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

Awareness of Eating

“Never trust a skinny chef!” is how the old saying goes. But let’s examine that adage and explore the rearrangement of a common cliché.

As we become more aware of our diets, the effects food has on our bodies and how it makes us feel, there needs to be a basis of trust between the cook and the consumer.

English: White House chefs, directed by Execut...

English: White House chefs, directed by Executive Chef Henry Haller, prepare for a state dinner honoring Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. The chefs are working in the White House kitchen; the dinner occured in 1981, during the administration of Ronald Reagan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take a look at the chef, the person responsible for creating the menu and training the kitchen staff on how to prepare the various dishes.

Since I have worked in kitchens, I know a lot more about how restaurant kitchens run than most. If the person creating my meal is on the heavy side, typically sauces and flavorings  would be full of butter, fats, salts and sugars.

“A heavy chef means they enjoy their food, so it must be good!”

Really? How many people who are overweight have a hard time identifying a proper portion size? Someone who struggles with weight will eat for the sake of eating.

Someone who has emotions (hopefully all of us) will eat sometimes for comfort. Think of chicken soup when you’re ill; but when you can’t stop eating weight becomes an issue.

Sometimes the food choices we make are simply because the food we choose is familiar, it is what we know. But what if that food is bad for us? What if people really don’t understand the processed food they are eating is bad?

Evidence the obesity crisis in the USA.

Jamie Oliver is doing an eating awareness program in West Virginia to address the problem of obesity. He goes into an elementary school and the children cannot identify fresh tomatoes on the vine, cauliflower or even potatoes.

The pile of pizza, corn dogs, hot dogs, hamburgers, cakes and ice cream all over the table that represented what the family ate for a week was disturbing. Most disturbing of all is that the mom didn’t know the food was bad for them. They weren’t hungry and she thought that was good.

But she is killing her family. Her 10-year old son is already 350 pounds. Really, “Well we’re not hungry”?!

Shocking. How did it get so far?

I want a chef who is inventive but not at the expense of my health. I want someone preparing my food with the same attitude I have for health.

Obesity is a rampant problem in the USA. Identifying proper nutrients is a major issue. Processed foods, fast foods, restaurant foods loaded with fats, salts and sugars invade the diets of every day eating all around us.

The basic food environment in the USA is severely lacking in good solid nutritious fresh food.

Drive through any town, fast foods for everything from donuts, burgers, sandwiches, Mexican, Chinese, and Italian; fried and fast is what lines the streets. It isn’t easy to choose not to eat fast food, especially when you are hungry, the temptation is great to give in.

There are many of us who are aware of what we eat. Those on gluten-free diets are aware of nearly every product they eat. Thankfully, gluten-free is easier to find these days, but there is still the issue of all that fat, sugar and sodium.

When we eat out, we are at the mercy of the kitchen to actually know how to make food taste good without the added fat, salts and sugar.

Slapping butter, sugar and salt onto food is an easy way to make anything taste good. Cooking like that takes no skill at all.

Using salt is an important seasoning but so many far overdo the salt thing. Adding some salt to cooking water when boiling pasta, rice or potatoes is usually all you need.

I love salt! I adore all the different kinds of salt there are, yet I don’t overdo it either.

I am not looking for a chef who serves me a plate full of sauces and vegetables full of butter. I am looking for foods that are cooked correctly and seasoned to bring out the full of flavors.

People need to learn what a proper portion size looks like. Restaurants serve enough to 1 person to feed three and yet that one person still tries to eat as much as they can because that is what they are served.

Case in point: The Cheesecake Factory (Hint right there) offers a “Crispy Chicken Costoletta” which serve up a whopping 2610 calories, 89 grams of fat and 2720 milligrams of salt. Costolotta alright, cost a lotta health if you eat all that.  If you really have to eat that, then break it down into three meals at least. (Nutrition Action Healthletter, January/February 2012) Best of all, choose another place to eat.

Watch buffets; people load up their plates as if they only have one visit. All manner of foods get glopped together on a plate so it becomes a huge pile of goop melange. Why not go get some salad, talk, visit with your dining companions, eat, and return for entrée, then again for dessert. It seems more civil. Why are we rushing? Trying to beat the mental signal you are full?

But instead they try to slip that cherry cobbler right next to the fried chicken and coleslaw that sits on top of the ranch dressing salad with “Country Crocked” yeast rolls underneath.

Then they stuff it all in, make a second trip and wonder why they have bellies the size of VW Bug cars.

Burp.

Talking to Tyler the other day, he mentioned he was having his girlfriend over for dinner and he had to go set the table. I felt good knowing he was carrying on a family value: Setting a table and sitting there to eat dinner and talk to each other about the day.

An attractive dinner setting

An attractive dinner setting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something so small, yet it is so important. Our social and family bonds grow stronger with each meal gathering. Shouldn’t the food put in front of us be nourishing as well?

The movement to better health through eating well begins with each one of us making a choice.

If you don’t know how to cook or how to choose better nutrition, take a class and learn. Get your children involved with preparing meals; they are more likely to try new foods if they have a hand in making the dish.

Step away from the sugar bowl! Put down those sodas and juice boxes. Drink water, teas, non-fat milk. There are even flavored waters with bubbles if you simply must have a fizzy drink.

Try extra-virgin coconut and olive oils instead of butter. Your heart will thank you.

I started taking a Therapeutic Nutrition class a few weeks ago. My eyes have really been opened to how severe the obesity epidemic is and that we CAN do something about it.

That something is education and choice.

I hope you can join me in starting something is your neighborhood. The future depends on our kids, how can they carry on if they aren’t healthy?

First step ANYONE can take:

Don’t eat any food advertised on TV

Except eggs and milk, of course!

Sorry Jared, Subway needs a better way.

Make a sandwich from home. Learn to cook fresh foods and eliminate processed foods. It may take a while to actually accomplish this, but you will be rewarded with better health and more money in your pocket.

If each of us took one small step towards better eating and nutritious health, we could change a nation. We can start in our own homes.

The power of one can inspire another.

Apples are an all-American success story-each ...

In My Kitchen October 2012

I went to the new posts reader this morning and saw Celia’s new “In My Kitchen ” post  at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and was shocked at how fast time has flown by.

Yikes! It has been over 2 weeks since I have posted anything. Guess when life gets busy, things slip by without realizing how much time has slipped by unnoticed.

turnips

turnips (Photo credit: hagerstenguy)

In my kitchen were 5#’s of fresh turnips and radishes which are being turned into Pickled Turnips. The recipe came from David Lebovitz a while back. As much as I love turnips and radishes, the recipe intrigued me, so I had to try them and fell in love immediately. A post with the recipe is in the works.

Pickled Turnips

In my kitchen is a big basket of lemons and some limes. Robert uses the limes in his drinks so I need to come up with some ways of using all these lemons we over bought. So I am planning to make lemon curd, preserved lemons, lemonade, dried zest, maybe some lemon vinegar and emulsified lemon oil and Chicken Piccata.

A Basket of Lemons

Right now, they are just a basket of lemons.

I bought a lemon squeezer just because.

Lemon Squeezer

In my kitchen is a new pan! I love this new square pan from All-Clad. I am sure they call it a griddle but I sure do like it. I have used it everyday since I got it.

Square Pan

In my kitchen is my levian. It was kept in the fridge all summer. Now that the weather is cooling down, it can come back out and hang out at room temperature. It will develop a deep rich flavor this way. Typically I make bread every week. I think September was a time warp because I didn’t make bread but once, maybe twice. And now October is also flying by. Can time be measured accurately by a levain life cycle? if so, I should read and listen to what it is telling me.

A Bowl of Levain

I have two buckwheat loaves in the oven. Next is a 10-grain loaf and an olive loaf with lemon and rosemary. I look forward to making that one!

Tyler gets to move back into his apartment next weekend so he will be cooking again. The “How To . . .” posts will start back again soon.

And there is another White Dinner Event on October 27 and classes resume again soon. Is it true that time speeds up as you get older? Is it time to write the November IMK already?!

In My Kitchen this September

 

September already?!

My kitchen has been busy, my life busy and bustling.

School has started which is consuming me from early to late hours. Thankfully my evening class is now over. Grades have been posted and it is time to move on to other projects such as the upcoming shoot for my TV show, Charlotte Cooks.

September heralds changing weather; last night a blue moon!Full Moon HDR

I hope you all got to catch a glimpse of the second full moon in a month. The next blue moon will occur in 2015.

August life caught me in between my parents in California and the earthquake tremors (news reported over 400 in one day; they said it was ‘down below from them’) and my son being slapped around by TS Issac in Florida. I must say he holds his cool much better than I do. For anyone keeping track, his apartment renovations have been extended for an additional 4 weeks due to “discoveries” during the current re-model. They need to replace all duct work, pipes and ventilation, carpeting, appliances etc before they get to move back in.

So his cooking skills are on hold as are the “How To Cook” posts until he gets back into his apartment.

Some gifts to my kitchen this month are:

Anaida returned and brought me a wonderful carving kit from The Carving Academy in Moscow so this is new in my kitchen this month.

About a hundred German chocolate cupcakes marched through my kitchen last weekend. I am writing a post on baking from a box that will be out in a few days. A friend bought an expensive mix and wanted to know if it was worth the money.

We delivered the cupcakes and mini-cakes  all over the neighborhood to the delight of lots of children.

The most delightful Thank-You for German Chocolate came from our neighbor Suzanne. I found this hanging on our door.

What a delightful bunch of fresh herbs! They smell so good!

This August has my garlic chives in bloom. Every time I cut any of my fresh herbs, I always say thank you. Bumblebees visit the flowers every day, I like this photo. It was one of those surprises when I downloaded the photos to my computer.

 

Safety Rules for the Kitchen

Dear Tyler,

Before you get cooking, there are some extremely important safety rules you MUST follow.

If you don’t, the chance for injury to yourself or property could result.

As you start cooking, make these rules part of what you do automatically.

1) Never leave the kitchen when there is a pot or pan on the stove with a burner on.

If you have to leave the kitchen, turn off the burner.

Leaving things on the stove unattended is one of the leading causes of house/apartment fires.

Find something to do in the kitchen, wash some dishes, wipe down counters or refrigerator shelves, sweep the floor etc. just stay in the kitchen while pots and pans are on the stove.

If you are heating oil, you have to stay right there with it to avoid over heating and catching fire.

To extinguish a grease fire:

Keep a box of kosher salt or a large box of baking soda handy to throw on to a grease fire. Try to cover the pan with the lid to smother the flames.

Throw the baking soda or salt onto the flames to put out the fire if you cannot cover the pan.

NEVER! Never, ever try to put out a grease fire with water! The water will spread the fire and it will ‘explode’ all over you resulting in some pretty nasty burns.

You might want to get a small fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen, under the sink.

2) Always leave a sign on hot pots or pans to indicate it is hot.

Nothing hurts like grabbing onto a hot handle and burning the palm of your hand! Youch! (An immediate treatment for burns is ice. It cool down the burned tissues.)

A clever way of putting ice on burned finger tips

Signal the pan is hot by placing a towel on the handle or on the edge of a pan.

Leaving a clean kitchen towel on the handle or along the side of a sheet pan signals the item it hot.

You can forget when a handle or pan is hot while cooking.

Protect yourself and others from burns by using the towel signal.

3) Probably the most important of all: NEVER, ever catch a falling knife.

Jump back out-of-the-way and let it fall.

So what if it nicks the blade. You will still have your fingers.

Knives are replaceable, your fingers are not.

There will be a post on knife safety soon.

4) Keep all handles and pans so they do not hang over any edges of ranges, counters etc.

Nothing hangs over the edge, the sheet pan and the pot handle should be moved so they don’t hang over the edge.

Turn them so they cannot be accidentally tipped over.

Nothing should be hanging over an edge, turn things so they do not.

Turn items so they aren’t hanging over the edge

Use towels to grab hot handles and hot lids.
Things have been on the stove so they will probably be hot

Always assume handles will be hot and use a folded towel to grab them.

5) Do not allow electrical cords to drape across the counter or any other place.

Put electric units close to the plug.

Unplug when not in use.

This practice prevents tripping over cords and pulling hot pots over onto yourself  or others, resulting in horrible burns.

These are best practices for learning your way around the kitchen.

Kitchens can be dangerous places so please use these safety tips.

Save yourself and others the agony of burns and cuts.

I know you are First Aid trained. Make sure you keep it up.

Have a kit handy to treat simple cuts and minor burns.

Your training will be called upon eventually either for yourself or someone else.

Most important, be able to recognize when you need to seek medical attention and do not hesitate; act quickly.

Natural-path Treatment for Burns:

Whipped egg whites, applied to cover the burn, once the whites dry, apply another layer. Leave on as long as possible.

Seek medical attention if the burn is severe.

Protect the burn from exposure to air.

Never ‘pop’ a blister.

In my work teaching culinary school, I see and tend to many kitchen injuries that can easily be prevented.

Food Safety is something you need to know about too. Read this post and organize your fridge.

I will write more about food safety in another post. For now, be sure to keep all meats cold and on the bottom shelves so they don’t drip on other foods. Keep all left overs cold unless you are eating them.

Get some cellophane wrap (Saran Wrap like) and use it to cover your food in the refrigerator.

If you need to make a sign with the safety rules to post in the kitchen, print them from your computer. Safety reminders are always a good idea.

Reminders help roommates and friends remember too.