In My Kitchen – October 2015

It’s been quite a while since we’ve been in my kitchen (or that I’ve posted).  With the wedding planning  and the wedding itself, I needed some time to rest up from the weekend of festivities.  We’ve also been busy catching up on all the projects around the house that I let slide for the past few months…ok, possibly I’ve let a lot of things slide for the past year.   There’s plenty that I’ve got to do both inside and outside the house.  Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of wood rot on the trim as well as an infestation of carpenter bees who decided to drill nests inside our trim board.  Once the bees moved in, a very determined woodpecker started hammering away at the bee larvae so that made for quite a mess.

I’ll ease back into posting now that the wedding is over, our heat wave is finished, and we’re heading into more comfortable cooking weather.  I will be posting a photo blog of the wedding and reception – it was absolutely the best day.   I’ve been waiting to post the official wedding photos though since I consider them to be Niki and Tim’s story to tell and share first and I didn’t want to jump the gun – so those will be coming up in the next blog.

For now though I do have a few things to share in my kitchen.

My favorite – a beautiful tablecloth and napkins that Niki and Tim bought for us in Greece on their honeymoon.  I love the linen fabric and the design.


I’m sure any of you who follow our IMK Hostess, Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial have noticed how much she loves her Romertopf cookware.  Looking at prices starting at $50 and going up from there, I’ve been debating on whether or not I’d use one enough to invest in one.  My decision was made for me when I found this at the church fair.  Are you ready for how much I spent on this (Celia?)?


$1.00 – yes, ONE DOLLAR!  I figure even if I never use it during the coming year I can always donate it back to the church next year.

My final In My Kitchen (actually it’s more of a ‘Wherever Diane Goes’) are these…again, sigh…


They’re still nice and shiny from my hip surgery and came in handy when I slipped on an oil spill in the garage and sprained my ankle.  At least they were in the basement where I could easily grab them and get myself upstairs to wait for my husband to come home for a ride to the emergency room.  It’s not a bad sprain though and is already feeling pretty good – not ready for dancing yet, but soon.

As always, thank you to Celia for hosting the IMK monthly blogs.  She does a fantastic job keeping us all connected.  Be sure to stop by and say hi to her at

In My Kitchen – June 2015

In my kitchen this month is success!  Last month I was having an anxiety attack trying to learn Photoshop to make the table numbers for the wedding reception using old photos of Niki and Tim with their ages corresponding to the table number.  A few days after buying some books and just starting to get the hang of things,  Apple decided to change their photo application and I lost access to all of the photos I had scanned.  I’m lucky that we now have an Apple store nearby and was able to get an appointment with a tech who did something to change back where my photos were being stored and finally got access again.  The results may not be perfect and need to be fine tuned, but they’re good enough to get by while I move on to other wedding projects.


And for my next project … making mercury glass vases.  The reception tables will have tablescapes with a variety of candles, flowers, and greenery and Niki was looking for that speckled, vintage look of gold mercury glass with a touch of silver peeking through.  After looking online for these and seeing the prices from $25 to $200 per vase, my daughter and I decided that we could turn this into a do it your/myself project.  I rummaged around in my supply of plain glass vases, bought some Krylon gold metallic and Looking Glass silver spray paint, found online instructions and waited for the temperature to warm up enough to spray outside – boy, this stuff is toxic and a face mask is highly recommended.


Viola!  mercury glass vases for about $1.00 a piece.


I also snuck in another birthday in May and my lovely daughter got me some of the cutest things.  Little tiny bud vases (no, not mercury glass – got enough of those now thank you very much).  All we need is a few days of sunshine and warm temperatures and I should have some new blooms to put in them.  Alas, right now we’re between blooms and a few days of heavy rain have stalled things.bud vasesShe also found these very cute measuring prep bowls.  What I love about them is that they’re the 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, and 1/4 cup size but also have a little pouring spout.  I love having prep bowls with everything measured out – fewer mistakes when I’m CWD (Cooking While Distracted).

prep bowls

Finally, when I was out shopping for my daughter’s Caphalon pots and pans (Crate & Barrel had a fantastic 40% off sale), I decided that I really needed one for myself.  The price was too good to pass up and I don’t have any like this with the ridges.


What’s happening in your kitchen this month?  As always, thanks go to Celia who graciously hosts the IMK every month for us.  Please stop by to say Hi to her at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  Take a stroll through the other posters kitchens and make some new friends.




In My Kitchen – May 2015

Remember the last time I talked to you, it looked like this outside my windows?


Well, we’ve gotten past that to something that looks like spring…



As soon as the daffodils bloomed, I was out there with my clippers to bring some spring into my kitchen.  It’s been a long wait but they bring a smile to my face.


IMG_1795Much has been going on in my kitchen these past couple of months but very little of it has been cooking, especially the creative type.  With my daughter’s wedding this August, I’ve taken over the center island for Wedding Central and started addressing invitations (I know it’s early, but at least I’m getting return addresses all set for the invites and the response cards).



Niki’s bridal shower is tomorrow and her lovely bridesmaids have got that completely under control.  I’m afraid that the UPS and FedEx drivers and our mailman hate me right now since a lot of the gifts are arriving daily from those who can’t attend the shower.  The first couple of packages started in my kitchen but I soon had to move everything to the dining room.  It looks like this…


I’m really enjoyed all of the wedding prep and have tried to keep up with all of your blogs but I’ve been immersed in a wedding project involving a computer (the new Mac), the scanner, and Adobe Photoshop…sigh…  I was so used to the Microsoft photo editing package.  My project is to scan photos of my daughter and her fiancé from ages 1 to about 18, then merge each age to one photo that will go on each table at the reception corresponding to their age.  You know – table 1 will be them at age 1, etc.

I started out thinking “I know how to photoshop pictures, of course I do”.  Hmm, there’s a little/lot more to Photoshop than meets the eye so I started with online tutorials using my iPad for the tutorial and the Mac to follow along.  Whoa…wait up Jack, slow things down a little – what did you just click on?  Since that wasn’t going so well I spent $30 on a book called Teach Yourself Visually.   That was a help but still left some gaps of the things I want to do with these photos.  Back to Barnes & Noble for a $50 book Photoshop 12 for Digital Photographers.  Now my island looks like this…

IMG_1796So you can see that I don’t have any room nor time for cooking but I’ll be getting back to all that at some point because I’ll be damned if Photoshop is going to beat me!  You might be thinking, “Well why don’t you just hire someone to do this for you?”  The answer is “because I’m stubborn as a mule so I’m not coming up for air until I figure all this out!”

In the meantime I am enjoying keeping up with your blogs although I am a little behind.  At least I can thank Celia for keeping me up to date with what’s going on in your kitchens this month.  Please swing by to say hi to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and take a look at her inspiring IMK post.

Winter Blues and The Blue Apron

My last post may have mentioned that we’ve been getting hammered this winter with blizzard after blizzard after blizzard – each dropping at least a foot of snow on us, followed by freeze your eyeballs solid cold.  Although I was born and raised in New England and I don’t think that I could ever live where there aren’t 4 seasons, I think we’ve had enough of the particular ‘season’.  With storms hitting us every other day it’s been hard to get out because the back roads are narrowed down to one lane.  I guess the best way to tell you about our winter is with pictures:

The day before this stop sign was completely buried – apparently the town went around clearing stop signs.stop sign

Who needs curtains?photo-9

You should have heard the noise when my husband got up on the ladder to knock these icicles down!photo-10

At least the front of the house gets sun & a little bit of melt

My husband’s daily exercise…

I’m guessing when this bird gets back from Florida, she’ll be putting in an insurance claim for damages for her roof leaking…IMG_1763

There is one who loves the snow – the Bernese Mountain Dog bobsled …

You would think that being housebound, my house would be sparkling clean – but frankly all I have is cabin fever and brain freeze.  I’ve taken advantage of an awesome Christmas gift from my daughter for a delivery from The Blue Apron.  The Blue Apron is a great service that delivers all of the ingredients – everything that you need to make a great meal.  They plan the meal, package all of the ingredients which are pre-measured, and deliver to your front door.  When I say they include all of the ingredients, it includes everything except the pans and a little olive oil or butter for cooking.

My three meal choices for this delivery were Orange Beef Lo Mein, Shrimp Po’ Boys, and Chicken & Sage Biscuit Pot Pie.  I started with the Lo Mein which is something that I never would have tried on my own since I would have no idea what half the ingredients were.  However, they include very detailed instructions – some would say foolproof but I proved them wrong. 



The result was really good although I made the mistake of forgetting to add the spice blend while cooking the meat so it didn’t really absorb and made for a very strong flavor.  I think I did a pretty good job of recreating this dish to look like their example.

Now, for the next meal we decided to try the Shrimp Po’ Boys which is where I really blew the instructions.  They gave us butter lettuce – some to put in the sandwich rolls and the rest for a salad with vinaigrette dressing.  There was a package for the remoulade sauce to top the shrimp in the Po’ Boys and a package for the vinaigrette dressing for the salad.  The instructions CLEARLY showed two bowls – one for the remoulade and another for the vinaigrette.  Back to that brain freeze I’ve had this winter…I dumped all of the ingredients together so we had a very um, tangy remoulade sauce.  Surprisingly it was still very good but I may have growled at my husband when he started laughing and said “huh, wonder what this was supposed to taste like”.

So tonight I’ll be making the Chicken and Sage Biscuit Pot Pie and I’m going to concentrate and really pay attention to the instructions – this one I’m going to get right.  But, if The Blue Apron is looking for anyone to test out their instructions they can give me a call to check for fool-proof-ness.

In My Kitchen – February 2015

How many of you remember that little jingle from elementary school that helped you  remember how many days in each month?

“30 days hath September, April, June and November,
All the rest have 31,
Except January and February in New England which have 61″

Ok, I’ve changed it up a little to reflect winter in New England and it may have something to do with the 2 feet of snow from last week’s blizzard and the 1 extra foot of snow predicted for tomorrow.  Unless you are an avid skier or snow mobile enthusiast, a lot of us do spend more time in the kitchen in the winter cooking warming, comfort food – like soups and stews.  That’s my plan except for one thing –

HELP – I don’t know beans about beans, so would all you bean friends tell me what I’m supposed to do.  I’ve got this really pretty bag of beans with a stew recipe which my daughter gave me for Christmas.
IMG_1722I think they’re pretty enough to just put in a dish for decorations but I really have plans to make the stew.  There’s a wonderful farmhouse stew recipe on the attached card but I’m stumped at Step 1 which says:  Rinse, drain, and pick over beans.

Help me out here bean gurus, what am I supposed to be looking for as I “pick over” these beans?  Is it like mussels where I’m supposed to discard the dead ones?  How do I know a dead bean by looking at it?  I’ve opened the bags and none appear to be jumping around or breathing so they all look pretty dead to me.  Maybe it’s a matter of taking out any that float belly up.  Any suggestions regarding bean ‘picking over’ are greatly appreciated.

Once I get the beans figured out and the farmhouse stew going, I plan to make these biscuits – another thoughtful gift from Niki (isn’t she great to try to streamline my cooking time?IMG_1723

I also have this adorable mini whisk from Tim, Niki’s fiancé.  I’ve put it beside my regular size whisk so you can get an idea of the size.  I’m not sure if I want to gunk it up with anything or make a cute decoration for next year’s Christmas tree.  Some of my favorite ornaments are related to my hobbies and I think this could be very cute with a bow.
IMG_1724Finally, finally, I’ve waited out my husband and after a year, got the counter chairs that I’ve been hoping for from Restoration Hardware.  I found these last year when they were on sale but my husband was against buying them without giving them an are test.  There aren’t any Restoration Hardware stores nearby where he could test drive them so I decided to wait him out.  It worked, I let him go looking all last year for counter chairs and he couldn’t come up with anything even close to the quality and sale price on these.  As soon as I saw the sale come up, I gave him one last chance and he caved in…and they’re very comfortable.

Now I’ve mentioned our latest blizzard in Massachusetts.  I don’t think it was as bad as some (since we didn’t lose power & that’s the true test of a storm around here).  Although we’ve now got a generator in case of power failure, you can’t run the entire house on it and have to select the most important things to keep running – like HEAT, water,  and the refrigerator.  So if power goes out during one of these storms, my stove moves outdoors to this:

IMG_1702You just have to brush the snow off after you shovel a path … yes, that’s the grill under there.

What’s happening in your kitchen this month?  As always, thanks to Celia at Fig Jam and cordials  for hosting the IMK posts.  Swing by to say hi and check out other kitchens around the world.  In the meantime, make sure to smile and enjoy whatever life drops on you….


Mango Chicken with Mascarpone Sauce

Sometimes I read someone’s blog and find a recipe that looks just too perfect to mess with, like this Creamy Kabocha Truffle Pasta that Bam recently posted.  Or how about Happiness Stan’s Shrimp-entouffee which looks fantastic as is but I can’t help but think…what if I added mussels to that… and then made up some of Celia’s Dakos to dunk in the sauce?  Then there are times when you’re not sure where you’re going with an idea and start scrolling through other blogs as I did one evening only to find Adam Holland online.  All I had for an idea was ‘something with sausages…and it should have a sauce’.  Since Adam was online at the time we went back and forth with ideas about adding a marinara sauce and caramalized onions – viola!  a great meal was born.

Some times it takes a team effort and someone to bounce ideas off of when you hit that road block of “what am I going to make tonight”.  This happened when my daughter called me from the market.  “I’ve got chicken and and a mango, but I really want a sauce – what do you think?”  Mango, mango…”Okay, what do you think of mascarpone cheese?”  Bingo!  A new and very easy recipe was born.  After giving it a try that night, Niki had to call me to tell me what a winner it was.  Now we both make this one on a regular basis.IMG_1593Easy?  You betcha:
– Thinly slice about 3-4 shallots.  Cook in a large saucepan with a half stick of butter
– After pounding chicken  breasts, sauté until almost done
– Add 8 oz. of mascarpone cheese, stirring with pan drippings and butter until creamy
– Add sliced mango for just a few minutes.  Mango should be ripe but not mushy to get the best flavor, over-ripe or overcooking the mango gives it sort of a bitter taste.
– Sprinkle a little cilantro on top for a nice fresh taste

And there you have it – a simple meal that takes less than a half hour to prepare and cook.  If you don’t count the butter (I never do), I’m pretty sure it’s even healthy.  As a matter of fact this is hitting the table tonight – thank you Niki.  And thanks to all of you, my blogging friends for inspiring me as well as holding my hand when I lack the confidence to try something on my own.  Does anyone else get inspired to try something different – a new ingredient, a new cooking technique from blogs you follow?


In My Kitchen – January 2015

I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and that 2015 will be a happy and healthy new year for all.

Don’t you love getting ‘real’ mail?  Real mail being NOT bills, supermarket flyers, or 6 pre-approved credit card offers.  You can imagine my delight when I received a chubby envelope from Celia in Australia.  Many of you know Celia from her great blog and as the hostess of these monthly In My Kitchen features.  If you haven’t stopped by yet to see her, this would be a good time to check out what’s happening in her kitchen this month at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  Inside the envelope were the seeds for making my first ever sourdough starter…so, the first thing happening this year in my kitchen is sourdough:
IMG_1673Celia very helpfully included very detailed instructions on getting the started perked up and ready to go.  She also suggested naming my starter, referencing where it came from, namely Priscilla.  I’ve named my starter Mamie, sister of Priscilla, in honor of my mother who was a world class baker.  I should warn you though, that at any time Mamie may decide to suddenly change her name as my mother did.  Yes, I have to tell you the story of the time I was visiting my mother when I answered the phone for her.  That conversation was a pretty typical conversation with my mother and went something like this:

Mamie:  Who was that?
Me:  I don’t know – wrong number, someone looking for Mary
Mamie:  Oh!  That’s for me, who was it?
Me:  I have no idea but it was someone looking for MARY, Ma. (My mother was a little hard of hearing).
Mamie:  No, that’s me.
Me:  (Who’s on first?)  What do you mean – are you Mary?
Mamie:  Yes of course I’m Mary!
Me:  When did this happen?
Mamie:  I’ve always been Mary
Me:  Then why did your parents call you Mamie?  And why did Dad call you Mamie…and your brothers and sisters?  Why is the mail addressed to Mamie?
Mamie:  They got it wrong and it was wrong on my birth certificate.  (End of discussion, next!)

So, just like that my mother decided her name was Mary and started using it on all of her documents so I guess it was legal.  One day I may take out my Mamie starter only to find that it’s now Mary, twin of Mamie, sister of Priscilla.

As Celia promised, my starter came to life and I got my first batch of sourdough bread ready to go, leaving it on the counter overnight until the next morning when it was ready to bust out of the bowl.  Alas, the dough was ready to go but I was upstairs with a rip roaring migraine.  Glenda – do you remember suggesting that my husband take up bread making during his retirement?  The idea of fresh bread was too overwhelming for him to not step up to the plate and finish off according to Celia’s great tutorial.  There were a few minor adjustments due to poor math skills with conversions (mine – and they would have happened even if I didn’t have a migraine).  End result – maybe not the prettiest but our opinion is that it tastes great!
IMG_1679Of course I got plenty of cool gadgets and gifts from my family and friends.  Now that I’ve got the first batch of sourdough under my belt, it’s time to try this butter making kit from my daughter.  It should be great on my next batch of sourdough:


I also had some temporary things in my kitchen.  Sushi:

Cute little guy isn’t he?  He was a Christmas gift for Tim, our future son-in-law and I was a wreck worrying about making sure he survived until I could get him to Tim.  Lucky for me, I turned around in time as Moe the Terrorist Cat was tap-tapping Sushi’s jar to see the how he handled gravity.  Oh, he’s also been renamed Henry (I think).

Now here’s what looks like a very fun gadget from Tim’s mother:
I have to buy some more grapes or cherry tomatoes to give this little gizmo a try but what you do is load it up with round objects and slide the slicer to cut the round objects in half.  I imagine I can come up with other round objects to stuff in there and the beauty of it is that the blade is safely inside so I shouldn’t slice off any fingers this year (at least not with this).

And how about this Fadenschneider?  I think I like that name better than just “microplane”.    It’s always useful to have a zester and bottle opener handy but I’ve never had anything to make those clever curly garnishes that all of you fancy bloggers are doing.  I sort of mangled a lime so I guess I still need some practice with my Fadenschneider, but once I do, you are going to see curly things all over my food.
And finally, moved from my kitchen to the back yard is this fun birdseed wreath from our great friends and neighbors, Tom and Sue.  It took the birds a while to figure out what that was hanging out there, but I think our recent sleet and snow storm convinced the birds to give it a try and we had dozens of birds out there yesterday fighting for treats.
IMG_1684Thank you all for sharing your stories with me this past year and especially for stopping by to read and comment on my posts.  I love hearing from you all and feel that I am a lucky person to have so many wonderful friends around the world.  Your stories brighten my days and I love learning about you through your love of good food and fun friendship.  May you all continue to share your joy of cooking and have a healthy, love filled New Year!