In My Kitchen: July 2014

 

I know I’ve missed a couple of IMK posts but I cannot believe that I just typed June only to remember that we’re in July already.  I guess time flies where you’ve been a slug.

Now technically not inside my kitchen, but outside my kitchen window is my hummingbird feeder which gets drained about every 2-3 days.  For some reason my feeder attracts just the males who fight all day because they don’t want to share – it’s like watching Star Wars fights with lasers.  A couple of them got into such a fight that one guy drilled himself into my screen door and I had to pop him out since he was quite stuck. Why these little sugerheads don’t have diabetes I don’t know – probably because those wings are beating so fast they must burn the calories right off.

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Now here’s a controversial item that I bought from the Pottery Barn catalog.  Barbara from Just a Smidgen was kind enough to tell me where she found hers after I saw it in one of her IMK posts. See all of the great ideas you get from snooping into other people’s kitchens?

I just love the galvanized metal and think it will be perfect for the barbeque that we’ll be having for my daughter’s engagement party in September.  I love it –  my husband hates it although he has no one to blame but himself.  I showed it to him in the catalog and said “isn’t this cool?” and he gave me the um huh so I ordered it.  When it came in, he decided that he hated it and wanted to know where I was going to put it…well, right here in my kitchen but out on the porch for barbeques of course.  He’s suspicion and claims that I never showed it to him which to be fair, is an old trick I’ve played a few times where I’ve bought things that I know he won’t like but then say “omg!  don’t you remember I showed this to you?  You liked it then – your memory’s really going.”

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I just love this colorful towel that my daughter found for me in San Francisco on one of her business trips.  Does anyone have any idea what it says?

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IMG_1550Life is just a bowl of cherries these days and they’re finally available in the stores.

IMG_1551Since we’re again having a glut of lobster in New England ($5.99/lb), I’ve got some Lobster Risotto cooking (recipe here).  At these prices, it’s cheaper than steak so I’m finding it very hard to let a week go by without some sort of lobster cooking.

And finally, in my kitchen are my “assistive devices” (don’t you love the tennis balls on the walker?)  which will be going to the senior center in town…I may keep the cane because you just never know when you’ll need a cane.  Since I spent about 3 hours on Monday with an ax, shovel, and saw digging out overgrown shrubs, I’d say that my hip is now in good working order.  The hip felt great – all the other muscles, well…let’s say I need to work on that a bit.

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Thanks for stopping by my kitchen this month and thanks again to Celia for hosting this monthly get-together.  Please stop by to say hi to her and see the others who are kind enough to allow us a peek in their kitchens – http://figjamandlimecordial.com/2014/07/01/in-my-kitchen-july-2014/

In My Kitchen – March 2014

I can’t say that I’m sorry to see February go away.  As Celia reminds us that it’s time to post our In My Kitchen for March I can’t help but hold out hope for some warm weather.  Be sure to swing by Celia’s kitchen this month – she’s made some scrumptious Cuban bread that I wouldn’t mind having right now.

Up until last night, about all I had in my kitchen was candles, rows of flashlights, and battery powered lanterns. We were supposed to get hammered with another fierce snowstorm, predicted to drop about a foot of snow on us and disrupt things with high winds. I think we may have lucked out though with the storm passing just south of us, leaving maybe just a few inches here. I did put away the flashlights and lanterns but I always have some candles out. These Swarovski crystal candle holders are my favorites and a gift from my husband many years ago. I love how they look like melting ice.

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I was so happy to finally find an egg separator at Target a couple weeks ago.  I lost one that I’d had for years and couldn’t find another so grabbed this when I spotted it in the gadget aisle.  I’ve been doing the back & forth with the 2 egg shells to separate yolks from whites and usually ended up making a mess and picking bits of shells out.

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It really came in handy for this Chocolate Raspberry Mousse from the Max Brenner cookbook that I won.  You know I would have had a terrible mess separating 10 eggs.

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Speaking of gadgets…remember my last post of the garlic chicken?  This is my handy little garlic zoom zoomer.  You lift the top, pop in the garlic and pretend you’re zooming a little race car around the counter while sharp little blades mince the garlic.  When you’re done playing, you’ve got minced garlic.  I also love my little garlic pot that I’ve had forever.

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Speaking of cookbooks – this one wasn’t free but close enough.  I found this huge Bon Appetit cookbook at a place called Ocean State Joblot yesterday for just $7.99.  You never know what you’ll find at that store but it’s guaranteed that you won’t leave empty handed.

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As I was looking through the recipes last night I found one for a sausage, red bell pepper, and onion calzones.  I’ve got to get moving and get the pizza dough started so I’ll have them for tonight.  Which brings me to one item that has been a back saver for me – this 30″ high counter stool which is just the perfect height to work sitting at the counter zooming the garlic zoomer around or kneading dough for the calzones.

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Under my feet is an unhappy pup who has two ear infections and needs drops in her ears twice a day.  Do you see that bottle of drops?  Right now she’s distracted by the treats she’s snarfing up but as soon as she looks up she’ll be outta here.  I don’t know how she clamps down those ears on me, but trying to get the drops in has been a challenge.

IMG_1354Finally, after I get the dough rising, and have chased Lola around the house with the ear drops, I’ve got homework to do.  I finally signed up for a class to learn how to operate my camera.  I really wasn’t that sure about paying to take the class because the pre-requisite was to read my manual.  Honestly!  If I wanted to read the manual, why would I take the class?  After downloading over 80 pages (the manual doesn’t come with the camera!), I decided that I’ll skim the pages, maybe make a few notes in the margins and pretend that I’ve been studying for months…

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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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In My Kitchen – January 2014

Happy New Year to all – I even got the year right although I’m sure I’ll go back to writing 2013 once today is over. Special New Year’s wishes go to Celia for hosting the In My Kitchen monthly feature.   Not only is the IMK a fun post but I’ve found some wonderful blogs and blogging friends thanks to Celia.  Be sure to check out Celia’s IMK first post of 2014.  Celia, thank you again and since we aren’t quite into the new year here, I’d like to ask you – how is 2014 looking so far?

In my kitchen this month, I’ve got a tree casualty…

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This sad looking fuzzy reindeer ornament is sitting in my kitchen while I ponder whether or not he can be repaired.  You see he’s missing an antler and an ear because the cat batted him off the Christmas tree and the dog grabbed it to show me what a bad cat Moe is.  Unfortunately, once Lola got the reindeer, she didn’t want to give him up and he lost a few parts in the tussle.

Of course in my kitchen this month are some fantastic gifts…

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This is one of the coolest cheese boards I’ve ever seen and is a gift that Tim, my daughter’s boyfriend chose.  It’s made in Italy and made of alder wood.  I love the grain and bark.  Now, resting on that cheeseboard is not a cheese knife but something that I really could have used on Christmas Eve as I was shucking about 24 cherrystone clams!  Do you think someone could have remembered and said “hey, let Mom open one of her presents a little early”?  That is a very nifty oyster shucking knife which opens the shells and has a rounded tip so you can loosen the clam from the shell.  Oh well, maybe we’ll see how it works out with the next batch of Clams Casino.

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This is a gift from an Irish lady who my husband works with – homemade Irish bread and some Irish butter to go with it.  I can tell you both were superb!  I melted the butter on a slice of this bread and made a lunch of it.

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I enlarged this shot of a special gift from my daughter which is a cutting board that she had made with our favorite and famous Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe.  It’s a special recipe for her because I always had a plate of these cookies waiting for her after her first day of school.

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Another special, hand crafted gift is this brass candle holder.  It has so much pretty detail and the church windows open.  I put a little tea candle on the stand behind it to light up the church.

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How these egg coddlers have made it this long without a chip, I’m not sure but we’ve had them for decades.  You just plop an egg in each one and set them in a pot of boiling water for coddled eggs, my husband’s favorite.  It’s interesting that I had this post almost complete when I read Celia’s and noticed that she has an Evesham Gold water jug posted that would make a great match to these!

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And finally, in my kitchen is something a little sad but full of sweet memories.  This large, heavy, leaded crystal heart has been hanging over my sink (now over the new one) for years.  It’s a special birthday gift from one of the sweetest, most generous friends I’ve ever known.  Gail was diagnosed with cancer just 3 months before I was and unfortunately died much too young almost 4 years ago.  Her smile would light up a room.  She was the best friend and confidante anyone could ever have.  Although I miss her terribly, I remember her positive outlook and generosity and think of her every day when I look at my crystal.  I think it’s fitting to include this in the first post of the new year to remind me that life and friends are precious and should always be loved to the fullest.

Wishing you all a very special, happy, and healthy New Year – Diane

In My Kitchen – December 2013: YES! I have a Working Kitchen

It’s hard to believe that I last posted a month ago.  Thanks to Celia for graciously hosting the IMK series and keeping me going with the In My Kitchen Posts, otherwise we could be into a new year before I realized that I need to catch up. Thanks Celia, you’ve got a great idea that helps keep us all on track and connected!

Now, in my kitchen is a working kitchen!  Other than a few very minor things my kitchen is finally done.  Want to see?

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Remember when it used to look like this:IMG_1036and then for a while it looked like this:IMG_1041

I absolutely love the entire kitchen.  It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of and very functional but there are some features that I’m really getting a kick out of.  One day though you might see me run out the front door, pulling my hair out, screaming “EVERYTHING‘s beeping at me!  Make it stop!”

I’m embarrassed to admit that this is the first time that I’ve had to read the instruction books on every new appliance.  I’ll clue you in on some important tips that I’ve come across too – just in case you were thinking of reheating your pet ferret in the microwave.

The flat top stove and vent hood are great, especially since all of the burners work and the oven consistently turns on.  It has a warming oven underneath but I haven’t figured that out yet.   Since we moved the fridge to the other side of the room, I absolutely LOVE having all that work space to the right of the stove.  Before I only had about 8″ or enough to set a ladle down.

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Tile backsplash with glass accents, slide in  Bosch flattop stove

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Well not so easy to slide in (electric cord position was a little difficult.  The guys figured there was a German engineer laughing his butt off )

Obviously, the stove has the most pages of warnings in the instruction book.  If I had to guess, I’d say stoves get the most lawsuits.  You all probably know not to dangle scarves or wear loose clothes when cooking but did you know you shouldn’t spray hairspray on when you’re standing near a stove that’s on?  Wicked split ends doing that I guess.  Other important tips that someone must have tried, hence the warnings:

– “Do not place food directly on oven bottom”
-” Plastic containers or cling wrap can melt permanently onto the bottom of the warming oven”
– “Pet birds have sensitive respiratory systems.  Keep them out of the kitchen where kitchen fumes could reach them.  Overheating margarines & cooking oils may be harmful.”  (If you have a wild bird in your kitchen, he’s on his own.)
– “If your stove catches on fire, do not reach through flames to turn off the fan but if you can do it safety you should.”

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Super sized sink & a very confusing faucet (I’m sure I’ll figure it out once I read the book).  I love the sprayer – it can do 2 different strength sprays or a stream but damned if I know when it decides to do any of them.  Theoretically after using the spray, shutting it off is supposed to default back to the stream.  Is Hansgrohe a German company too?

Note:  The counters are granite.  Granite is harder than glass.  I broke the first coffee pot on Day 2.

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Granite topped island in black with silver tone hardware to contrast with brown on the white cabinets

Important things to know about the microwave drawer:
– “It is for food preparations only!  It should never be used to dry clothes or newspapers.” (newspapers?)
– “Some products such as whole eggs and sealed containers – for example, closed glass jars – are able to explode and should not be heated in this appliance.”  (Some of you may remember what happened with my friend who tried to warm his golf balls in his microwave & ended up with a pocketful of exploding balls).
– Glenda, this one is for you…have you been using your microwave drawer to store your cookbook collection? “NEVER use the microwave drawer for storing cookbooks.”  Don’t you wonder why they had to be so specific on this?
– And, of course:  “At no time should anyone be allowed to lean or swing on the microwave drawer.”

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Top Loading, push button slide out microwave drawer

In the second drawer of the island, I added in a nifty peg system to store my everyday dishes and cups.  I don’t have to move at all to unload the dishwasher into this drawer.

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Bosch dishwasher with silverware drawer on top & a water softening system.  My dishes actually are clean!

Bosch dishwasher with silverware drawer on top & a water softening system. My dishes actually are clean!

I know this is crazy, but again, I have to warn you about the dishwasher door – what’s with doors & drawers?
– “Do not abuse, sit or stand on the door or dish racks of the dishwasher”.
– “To reduce the risk of injury, do not allow children to play IN or ON the dishwasher”.
– Since this is another Bosch appliance, failure to heed these warnings will result Angela Merkel knocking on your door and smacking you around.

And my bank of narrow cabinets, also known as the landing area for mail, cell phones, wallets, and of course cats..

Landing area for wallets, phones, and cats

Landing area for wallets, phones, and cats

It’s been a long process, but I am so happy to have my dream kitchen in time for Christmas.  A few recommendations if you are considering a major renovation:
– Plan the project for warm months.  You will have all sorts of workers in and out all day and if you are having tiles cut, it’s best they do that outside.  In the case of the wall tiles, they were cut one piece at a time so the door was always open.
– Plan a slush fund of 10-20% of the total cost for unexpected expenditures.  No matter how well you plan, there’s always a chance that once a wall comes down or a soffit gets knocked out that wires or surprises will come up.
– It’s well worth hiring an expert kitchen planner to guide you through the process and to coordinate the subcontractors.  One guy can delay a project and you really don’t want to be scheduling plumbers, electricians, plasterers, or building inspectors on your own.
– Don’t try to cut corners thinking that you’ll save a little.  My thinking on this is that if you’re investing in a major re-do, why try to save a few dollars by putting something in that will be an eyesore.
– Practice deep breathing and relaxation exercises and be ready for the phone call that your entire tile shipment was smashed.

In My Kitchen – October, 2013

I’ve always enjoyed reading the In My Kitchen posts that Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial is kind enough to host every month but have never had a blog ready in time to post one of my own.  But this month I was able to get my photos & post ready to join in – I hope you enjoy.

In My Kitchen… …is a great big mess and piles of boxes.  Of course if you have a box and a cat, the cat will be in the box.
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This is the week that I have to pack up everything in my kitchen cabinets for the demolition to begin next Monday.  I’ve got four different piles of boxes:
1.  Things I rarely use that will get stored in the attic
2.  Things that really have always belonged in the basement but have made their way up to the kitchen
3.  Usable things that others might want which will go to the shed at the dump
4.  Critical things that I’ll need over the next month for cooking in the microwave or grill

If I’m in the kitchen, then Lola’s in the kitchen under my feet waiting for me to drop a tasty little morsel or turn my back so she can snatch food on the counter…
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Mary, our fabulous kitchen designer has told me that I can’t have any more junk drawers – maybe one…so John went out and bought me my own little tool box for essentials.  One junk drawer, eliminated…
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Look what I found as I cleaned out my cabinets – this was from my mother’s house and is a pie tin from the Table Talk Pie company, started in Worcester, MA in the 1950’s.  That was before everything was disposable so when you bought a pie you would pay the deposit.  This is one of the originals with a 5 cent deposit.  When you returned the pie tin you got your deposit back.  Although this is a full size pie plate, they were known for their 4″ lunchbox size pies.
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This stack of measuring cups were a gift from my very thoughtful daughter, Niki and are being carefully packed away until the kitchen is complete.  I will have a glass front cabinet where this will be displayed.
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And finally, as of next Monday, my kitchen will no longer exist as it is – say goodbye.
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