In My Kitchen – February 2014

Since we’ve been in the deep freeze of one of the coldest New Englander winters of all time and with the new kitchen, you’d think that I’d be spending all of my time in the kitchen whipping up new recipes.  For some reason when the weather is like this, I tend to stick with the old favorite comfort foods and haven’t made anything new or very exciting – lots of soups, roasts, and casseroles.  I tend to hibernate when the weather is so bitterly cold that you get an ice cream headache stepping out the door and your face kind of cracks, falling into little pieces on the walk.  At my age, it’s hard to put all the pieces back in the right places which might explain the eyebrow being on my chin.

But, it’s always fun to join in to Celia’s In My Kitchen posts that she graciously hosts each month.  I don’t know about you, but I love snooping in other people’s kitchens to see what they have hanging around and this month Celia’s got lots of chocolate hanging around – in case you’re in the area.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a photograph of the photographer but yesterday in my kitchen, I had our designer’s professional photographer taking pictures of my kitchen.  It’s amazing to watch someone who really knows his way around a camera but I’m afraid he would have critiqued my skills if I’d brought my camera out.  I missed that shot but Mary of Wayside Kitchens very nicely brought me these lovely roses and what I call bellflowers – maybe some of you experts out there could help me out on the blue flowers.  It brings a bit of spring into my kitchen which I really love.

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On the shelf on my range hood is Mr. Hooty the owl.  It was an adorable Christmas decoration from my daughter that was just too cute to put away until next Christmas.  He watches over what I do, and since owls are wise will hopefully bring me wisdom in my kitchen.  Plus, he gives the evil eye to any dogs who try to snarf up food off the counters.

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Ah, here’s my NEW coffee maker.  I may have mentioned that I’m having a little trouble getting used to the granite countertops.  I broke the pot on my old coffee maker but had a spare from the last coffee maker that burnt out.  Well, that pot seems to have hit the granite and was replaced with this new Mr. Coffee machine – yes, #3 and one of the less expensive models since I’m not trusting myself with breakables yet.  It might not be an expensive Keurig but at the rate I’m going I could rent out space here to Dunkin Donuts and buy coffee from them every morning – it would be cheaper I think.

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Now Celia, I thought of you on this one…I may have mentioned that my daughter is running the Boston Marathon this spring for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.  She had a very successful fund raiser for the MS Society at The Forum restaurant which was one of the places that was damaged last spring by the marathon bombers.  They were incredibly generous to donate a section of the restaurant for her to host the event and set up tables for raffle items donated by Boston businesses.  I was very relieved to not win the month membership to Beantown Bootcamp and instead lucked out with a much more appropriate prize of this decadent box of chocolates from Max Brenner’s store which also included his book “A Chocolate Love Story”.  The book has 65 chocolate dessert recipes so you should be seeing some posts titled ‘Bohemian French Toast Chocolate Sandwiches, ‘Parisian New Life Chocolate Dream Cake” or “Mon Cheri Chocolate Cherry Pie”.

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Oh… it seems that the tin of milk chocolate cubes filled with hazelnut cream and caramelized pecan bits (named Addiction) is empty!  I should take that back to see about a replacement…

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 Okay, a little explanation is necessary on this one.  I was reading Happiness Stan Lives Here’s post about his new Magimix that he got for Christmas.  I commented on the fact that I had this Pro model KitchenAid Mixer sitting in a box in my closet because it was going to be a Christmas gift for my daughter.  (She’d sent me a link, maybe it was a hint to this site that had them on sale).  After buying the mixer, I thought about her limited counter space and how she could really use a new laptop, so I bought her that instead.  When I told Stan about how I had this awesome KitchenAid mixer sitting in the box in my closet,  he wrote back – ‘use it’.  I don’t remember exactly what happened.  I think I may have blacked out for a few minutes and when I came to, this major mixer had replaced my 40 year old Sunbeam mixer on my counter and it was looking pretty good to me.  Of course the clock on the warranty starts ticking from date of purchase, not use and I was concerned that it might be defective – so I used it.

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That’s the dough hook attached right now which produced these cinnamon rolls (I’ve posted the recipe in a prior post, here) .  Sorry Niki, but will you forgive me if I keep turning out cinnamon rolls to share?  You’d reap the rewards with none of the work…

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66 thoughts on “In My Kitchen – February 2014

  1. First, those flowers are gorgeous on your new counter. Love the little owl and that chocolate book.. god, that sounds amazing. I know you’ll try, cuz you’re more daring than me in that deparment.. just save some long enough for me to come by and nom nom. Your cinnamon buns are so fluffy. Another one to save for our Spring lunch. Glad you used the mixer. I have an OLD one from my Aunt from about 50 years ago.

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    • Aren’t those flowers beautiful? I thought that was so nice of Mary to bring them over. Judy you and I will have to look at this chocolate book together – there are 65 things we can try! My Sunbeam mixer was still working but every time I made dough with it I’d have to babysit it because it would take a walk across the counter. Now the KitchenAid – whoa, I can barely lift this thing. But only makes sense to make sure it works right?

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    • Tandy, I think I need to get a used to the fact that you don’t raise the head/motor but instead lower the bowl with the lever. I’m finding it a little difficult to add things like flower, even with the bowl down. My daughter did mention that they have some sort of attachment that you pour ingredients through so I’ll need to get used to it.

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    • Glenda, this is one monster of a mixer. I think I need to get some sort of thing cutter board to set it on so that I can slide it. It’s heavy which is great because even mixing dough I can walk away and know that it hasn’t taken a walk off the counter.

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  2. Maybe one day when I am big I will also get a Kitchen Aid – first need a bigger kitchen though, so it will have to stay on the list for now – so many other things needed first before the wants.
    Secretively, your daughter keeps me motivated with my runs every day – wish I was brave enough to run for a charity – maybe next year after I have really got this running thing sorted.
    Your flowers are exquisite – they give me that warm and fuzzy feeling.
    Your prize is awesome, I bet Celia would love to get her hands on that book!
    Have a beautiful weekend friend,
    🙂 Mandy xo

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    • I should get you in touch w/my daughter. She just finished her 14 mile run today & felt pretty good after it. You know she started with doing walks for cancer and multiple sclerosis, then worked her way up to doing 5K’s. Of course she’s never run anything like the Boston Marathon but she’s working hard to meet her training goals.
      I figured I’d save the KitchenAid for a gift for my daughter later and then worried that if something were wrong with it, the warranty would have expired. And, she really doesn’t have the counter space but it’s too heavy to be moving from pantry shelves to counters.

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  3. The name of the blue flowers is ‘Bluebells’ – how I knew that…. I have no idea, except that I love flowers and probably have seen them in one of my gardening books or online. I love the combination of the roses & the Bluebells. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
    I enjoyed reading about what you have in your kitchen. Thanks for letting me know Celia shares posts of ‘In My Kitchen’ every month – Celia has great ideas!
    When I sold the farm in Quebec, the realtors hired a professional photographer who took absolutely gorgeous photos of both the inside & the outside of the house and ‘sugar shack’ etc. The photos made everything look fabulous & I got My Price for the farm, even though no one thought I would!!)

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    • Ah, Bluebells – thank you Cecile. I just love them with the off white roses and of course the arrangement just brightens my day looking at it.
      Celia’s terrific to host the IMK posts and I know it’s extra work for her but I’ve met so many great bloggers on there that I might not have connected with.
      I think having a professional photographer for important photo’s can make a huge difference and I think Mary would like to have a portfolio handy for whatever might come up. A pro also really notices things that most people would miss – even if it’s just a smudge (stainless steel!) or forgetting to take the phone off the counter.

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      • Celia – you are just THE SWEETEST thing ! I’m gonna do just that – thanks !!
        I was named Cecile because 1. I’m of French Canadian background & had an aunt Cecile & 2. my mother had a fabulous soprano voice & she was very, very religious and St. Cecilia is the patron saint of music. How did you come to named Celia? I love that name! (My name sounds better when it’s pronounced in the French manner!!)

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  4. Diane, your posts always make me smile so much! Granite benches are hard on breakables, aren’t they? But when it comes time to roll pastry, or shape bread, or temper chocolate, you’ll be so pleased you have it! The flowers are gorgeous, and I’m so glad you won chocolates instead of bootcamp. You reminded me of a conversation I had with Pete’s cousin recently – he’d just returned from a family holiday in Bali. I asked him why he went, and he said, “oh well, the neighbour and I were at a silent auction, and we got quite drunk, and the next thing I knew, we’d bought a holiday..” 🙂 And new Kitchenaid! Niki won’t mind (much) I’m sure, especially if you keep baking for her! Those cinnamon rolls look fab! xxx

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    • You know I think part of the problem with the granite counters is that they’re a little bit taller than what I had. Being on the um, short side I guess I just have to aim higher.
      Now Pete’s cousin is a riot! I have no idea how many raffle tickets John bought for us but with the big box of chocolates AND the flowers from Mary, I have a feeling that he thinks he’s all set for Valentine’s Day 🙂
      Niki has been very gracious about the KitchenAid. Part of her problem is counter space but also she has a gas stove in her apartment which an oven that only has an ON and BURN setting so she rarely does any baking. She’s here enough to get her share of goodies.

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  5. Love that you were so thoughtful to make sure the mixer worked…you would be remiss not to do so for your daughter. The cinnamon rolls are a mere bonus for all to confirm the mixer is indeed working. Now, about the flour going everywhere – there should have been included a large piece of round plastic with a hole in it that goes on top of the mixing bowl – that’s where you place the little spout thingie and pour the flour in there. Technical terms, I know…but thought’d it might help in the clean up dept. Also, there is a special slide out/slide up thing that you can have the cabinet people install foryou.

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    • Oh-oh I did not see any round plastic thing with a hole in it (hope it wasn’t in the box which is now at the dump). I think I can buy it as an attachment & it’ll be well worth it.
      I do know someone who has one of her cabinets with that slide out drawer on it but I pretty much only have drawers in the kitchen. It was one of those things that I’d thought about when we were designing but then I just never pursued it. Those KitchenAid’s are heavy aren’t they?

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  6. Anyway…I ran out of room to finish explaining…the special slide out will hold the heavy mixer and you simply pull it out and up and it locks in place….see if they can do that for you, cause it makes life with mr. mixer sweet indeed.

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      • We don’t have one of the slideouts….but next kitchen surely will….along with 7,000 other things we have on a list….that baby is heavy duty! Plus, you can get so many more attachments for it, you just need a kitchen just for the mIxer!!

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      • You know what I’m thinking of doing once I get the pantry squared away (yes, I took care of everything in the kitchen but the pantry still needs to be sorted and organized) – anyway, it’s a big pantry & I think that I could buy one of those small rolling carts and tuck it into the corner.

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  7. I love my granite benches Diana, but must admit I banged the counter hard one time by accident and actually put a hairline crack in not the object, but the bench itself! I’d love a KitchenAid… I used to sell them once upon a time when I had the cookware store. Your cinnamon buns look delicious!

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    • You know I would have had a hard time believing that except a friend of mine – granted he’s a good sized guy – tripped over his dog while heading into the kitchen, landed full force in the middle of his granite island & put a crack right down the middle. So it can be done.
      You had a cookware store? That must have been a fun job. Did you do cooking demo’s at the store? I have a friend who owns a hardware store and he added a large section just for high end cookware. Every time I visit I add something to my wish list.

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  8. I have major KitchenAid envy… I’ve been dreaming buying myself one for so long! Love those gorgeous white roses; white flowers of any sort instantly lift up a room, roses specially! Looking at your Max Brenner haul reminded me of a Christmas present I got that I totally forgot about, I must go look what’s in that packagae!

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    • I’m still getting used to the KitchenAid – it’s very different from what I was using but the great thing is that it’s so solid. Oh if you got some chocolate for Christmas you really need to check it out before it goes bad.

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  9. What beautiful flowers – very wintry and sophistitcated. I dread to think how much I’d break if I had granite worktops; as it is I’ve had to switch to a stainless steel coffee pot because I kept breaking the glass ones. Your chocolates sound delicious – much better than the bootcamp prize (though after eating them all maybe one session at the bootcamp?).

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    • Anne, you don’t know how I debated getting the coffee maker with the stainless steel pot! It was about $25 more but I’m thinking I would have been better off in the long run because this new one actually feels like the glass is thinner. I’m thinking of returning this one and going with the stainless pot.
      Bootcamp – yikes, my daughter goes there & I’m sore just listening to the things she does. This one isn’t for sissies like me.

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  10. The more cinnamon rolls, the better!
    I have the same black mixer, and I’m glad you took Stan’s advice and opened it. I love mine and use it so much — let it whip, whip, whip while you walk away! It’s a powerhouse! [And you can even order a glass bowl for it, but I don’t advise it, with your countertops. 🙂 Better to stick with the metal bowl, and maybe the ice cream maker attachment — that is, when summer comes!]
    Those baby blue flowers are so delicate and beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing all these uplifting little things!

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    • Oh you’re right about glass not being a good idea for me. I figured you would have a KitchenAid but I’m trying to picture how you get a glass bowl to fit onto the prongs. I’ve been having a hard time fitting the 2 holes on the metal bowl onto the prongs & then snapping it to the hook in back – maybe it just needs to be broken in a little more. I guess more cinnamon rolls are in the future. Actually I promised some to a friend of mine.

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  11. Hello Diane, Sending some warm breezes from HK and hoping that you unthaw soon. A cuppa of coffee and one of those delicious cinnamen rolls ought to do the trick. I would want to hibernate and live in that cozy kitchen of yours too. The oldies but goodies are sometimes the best. Just the other day I decided to go several days with just cooking and experimenting in Bam’s Kitchen without taking one photo and now I love to cook even more.

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    • Thank you for the warm breezes – they’re predicting up to a foot of snow for tomorrow.
      I go through moods with cooking – sometimes I just want to stick something in the oven and be done with it & then other times I just want to try everything new – but I always go to your site for inspiration.

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      • Slight update.. the weather has turned a little chilly in Hong Kong. About 8 degrees C (mid 40’s F) I did not request for you to be blowing cold air this direction. Mother nature is so unpredictable.
        I am in a baking mood this week and my teenagers are loving every minute of it… Next week I forwarned them I might have a fish craving week. You know how much my boys love fish… LOL
        You are so sweet! I come to your site when I need a good hearty laugh and life lessons on taking life just one step at a time. Thanks for being there Diane! Have a super week.

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      • Oh dear – I think your warm air pushed our cold all the way across to you. You’d expect the Rockies to kind of act as a barrier. But tonight & tomorrow we’re getting a good ol’ Nor’easter with maybe a foot of snow & sleet. February – a very cruel month.
        Oh boy! Do I hear the boys saying “that’s great mom, we were so hoping you’d make fish for us”?

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  12. Lovely flowers. I believe the blue ones are larkspur (related to delphinium), not blue bells. You are going to love your new mixer! I don’t know what I would do without mine. Got a craving for cinnamon rolls..

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    • I do love fresh flowers, especially this time of year. I have to keep trying that mixer though to get used to it. I have a bad tendency to want to stick the scraper inside the bowl when the beater is going – not a good idea at all.

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  13. Hi Diane, loved the peek into your February kitchen. I gravitate to comfort foods too when the weather’s cold, which it has been here in the DC area this winter, although nowhere near as cold as you are in Massachusetts.
    The flowers are beautiful and congratulations on the new mixer. I have a 15-year-old Hamilton Beach that still works fine, although not without a hiccup every now and then, and I’ve been trying to resist the temptation to replace it. Mr. Hooty the owl is adorable.

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    • Thanks for stopping by my kitchen. Yes, you have had some weather in DC too and today seems like another smack down but at least we’re into February so spring has to be somewhere around the corner.
      You know I think my mother had a Hamilton Beach & that thing just lasted forever. My Sunbeam was still working fine although it didn’t have the oomphf that the KitchenAid does. I wouldn’t have spent the money for it for myself but then after changing up Christmas gifts for my daughter, I thought “well, why not at least give it a try”.

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  14. G’day Your flowers brightened my day Diane, true!
    I don’t have a green thumb, so hopefully one of the other In My Kitchen participants might be able to identify what they are!
    My eyes got dreamy over choc and hazelnut!
    Is that YOU in the top of the coffee maker? If it is, that happens to me all the time and I always laugh about it too!
    Cheers! Joanne

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    • It seems we’ve got a difference of opinion on the blue flowers – some say bluebells & then I’ve got larkspur. In any case, I just love fresh flowers, especially in the winter.
      Yes, that is me in the coffee pot! Good eyes. Could be worse…I have a friend who took a honeymoon picture of her husband in the hot tub. She was standing there naked not thinking about the mirrors that she was surrounded by.

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    • You can always count on Stan to steer you right. You know we’ve probably got basically the same Sunbeam mixer & mine’s still going too. The only problem with it is that I lost the little round piece of rubber on the bottom of one beater so it doesn’t automatically turn anymore. Other than that, the motor is still going strong. I don’t think they make things like that any more.

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    • So far the only thing I’ve made with the KitchenAid uses the dough hooks and it does mix things up faster than my old one. I always give the dough a little extra kneading at the end anyway – got to still play with it just to make sure you’ve got the texture right.

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    • You’re not going to believe this, but I’m now on my 4th coffee maker. At least I didn’t break the last one but returned it. What a horrible design it was! Had to be a guy who came up with this idea but rather than 2 separate compartments – one for the coffee & one for the water, they decided to combine them so that you had to carefully pour the water down the back side of the coffee maker. If you miss, then the water just comes pouring out the hole for the brewed coffee. I don’t know about you, but I’m just not that careful when pouring the water. Plus, when I took the pot out to pour, there was always some coffee dripping on the hot plate. Nah…brought that one back & as I thought about it decided to buy the model with the stainless steel pot. I may be okay with that one but I’ve been noticing with the returned Mr. Coffee & this one that the coffee just isn’t as hot. I wonder if they had some sort of lawsuit about hot coffee burning someone.

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      • Yup, writing up my next blog now – that stainless pot lasted 3 days & is heading back today! I’m divorcing Mr. Coffee after many decades. Seriously – how tough is it to make a coffee maker? Place to hold the water, place to hold the grounds, place to put the pot…button to get the water to pour over the coffee into the pot. Unless it doesn’t…

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  15. I thought that little owl was cute until you said it gave the evil eye to dogs trying to snatch food off the counter. Now I hope Lola finds a way to knock that little owl out of it’s spot. After all, what are counter for but counter surfing.

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  16. Diane, comfort food is the perfect way to contend with the cold. So are coffee & chocolate & cinnamon rolls! Your granite countertops may be hard on your coffee carafes, but they sure do make a lovely background for your flowers. Happy Valentine’s Day to you & yours!

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    • Isn’t that true about winter & needing comfort food? Although I’m stuck in the house more during the winter, I just don’t feel like experimenting much and just still with old standbys – especially soups and crock pot recipes.
      I love flowers year round but winter is a time when I really appreciate them. Happy Valentine’s Day to you too – I’m wondering if my husband thinks that chocolate & flowers covers him 🙂

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