I have created this site to help people have fun in the kitchen. I write about enjoying life both in and out of my kitchen. Life is short! Make the most of it and enjoy!
I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for over 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.
I love our big Blue Herons. But we usually see them in the summer. Yesterday I saw one, but I think he was actually a Grey Heron rather than a Blue Heron. This is very late in the season for Herons, so I was very pleasantly surprised to see him (or her). He looked different than our normal Herons, but he was just as gorgeous. He was hiding in the reeds, hoping I wouldn’t see him. But I did. He posed for the camera and gave me some great shots. 🙂
Potatoes are like bread to me. I can eat them every day and never get tired of them, especially since there are so many wonderful ways of preparing them. I discovered yet another new way to enjoy them and I now sharing that with you.
These potatoes are called melting potatoes, because they just melt in your mouth. They are also known as fondant potatoes. Fondant is a derivative of the word fondire, which means to melt in French. They are crispy on the outside and smooth and velvety on the inside. YUMMY!
The potatoes are pan-fried first in butter and olive oil, then broiled to perfection in chicken broth after they are browned on both sides. This is the secret and magical touch that makes them so creamy on the inside.
3-4 large Yukon gold or Russet potatoes, peeled
3/4 tsp Kosher salt or coarse salt
fresh ground pepper
2 TBSP olive oil
6 TBSP butter
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 TBSP garlic
1 cup chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 425* F or about 220*C.
Cut the ends off the potatoes to make them flat, then slice them into thick rounds, about 1 1/4 inches thick. Place them in cold water for about 5 minutes.
Get a cast iron skillet very hot, then add the olive oil and 2 TBSP of the butter to coat the bottom. Carefully add the potato slices in a single layer. Do not overcrowd the pan. Cook for about 7-10 minutes, or until they are are browned. Turn them over and continue to cook for another 7-10 minutes on the other side. I cooked hem for about 9 minutes, which was a bit much. So next time, I will cut the time down to 7 minutes.
Add the remaining butter, thyme, rosemary and garlic, then carefully add 1/2 of the chicken broth to cover the potatoes. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes. Spoon the liquid over the potatoes, then turn them over and add the rest of the broth and continue to roast for an additional 10 minutes. When they are done, discard the rosemary and thyme sprigs, and serve up to enjoy. Top with more of the buttery sauce.
I served mine up with some ham with a honey Dijon mustard cream sauce and some green beans topped with red peppers, onions, mushrooms and garlic. I served a cool crisp chardonnay on the side. This was a nice warm meal for a cold, crisp night.
Have a great day Everyone. Stay warm, stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.
Yesterday, I shared my coyote pictures, Nature Walks – Coyote Trail and many of you commented on how healthy the coyotes looked. They are very healthy. Part of the reason they are so healthy is because we have a lot of prairie dogs out in the open space, and the coyotes were out hunting for the prairies dogs and rabbits. It is not only coyotes who are plump and healthy though. The prairie dogs are plump and healthy too.
Of course in my house, we are all plump and healthy. I guess it is a vicious cycle. 🙂
The holidays are here, and it is time to do some holiday baking. I love to bake all throughout the year, but during the holidays, I like to make things even more festive, to celebrate the season. Gingerbread is one of those flavors that is just perfect for the Christmas season, and has been a Christmas tradition around the world for centuries. There are three main types of gingerbreads – brown gingerbread, wafer-based gingerbread and honey gingerbread.
Gingerbread or Lebkuchen, as it is known in German, is a traditional German cookie given as gifts at Christmas that date back to the 1300’s. Lebkuchen is very similar to gingerbread but it is much darker, more dense and rich, and chewier. Lebkuchen is never crunchy. It is made with honey, whereas gingerbread uses molasses Gingerbread and all its variations are very traditional Christmas or holiday treats in all parts of Europe, but interestingly, it seems like it is more apart of the colder cultures, like Germany, Sweden and Russia. The tradition of the gingerbread man comes to us from Russia, from the late 17th century, when Russian bakers prepared gingerbread men and women as replicas of those people attending parties.
Pomegranates are traditional holiday foods in the Mediteranean regions of the world. Pomegranates are a symbol of Christmas in Greece and many of the Mediterranean countries. In the modern Greek tradition that meaning has shifted a little, with the pomegranate now being a symbol primarily of prosperity and good fortune. Habitually, a single fruit is hung up above the door of the house on Christmas Day. On New Year’s Day, just after midnight, the fruit is smashed on the doorstep to ensure another year of good luck for the household and those within it. Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol of righteousness, knowledge, and wisdom because it is said to have 613 seeds, each representing one of the 613 mitzvot or commandments of the Torah.
When I made my pomegranate gingerbread cookies, unbeknownst to me, I was actually making cookies that were very culturally blended and just perfect for the holidays; all holidays, from many cultures, celebrated at this time of the year. I was just looking for fun new cookie recipes and thought these were very festive. I had seen an interesting recipe for pomegranate cookies, but then I lost it, and was looking for it again when I came across this recipe instead. So of course I just had to try it. I am very glad I did too. You know I had to personalize it though and make it my own. Would you actually expect me to follow the recipe exactly? 🙂
Pomegranate Gingerbread Cookies
Preheat the oven t 350* F or 190* C.
2 1/1 cups flour
1 TBSP ground ginger
1 TBSP cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt
1 cup or 2 sticks of softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1 cup powdered sugar or 1 container of premade white frosting
5 TBSP softened butter
1 1 /2 TBSP pomegranate juice
pinch of salt
crystallized and/or candied orange peel – You can also use crystallized ginger
Combine all the dry ingredients together and set aside.
Mix the butter and sugars together until creamy, then add the egg and the pomegranate molasses and beat again until creamy. Add the flour 1/2 at a time, mixing in between. I made my own pomegranate molasses just by combining some molasses with pomegranate juice.
Drop about 1 TBSP of dough on top an ungreased cookie sheet, about two inches a part and bake for about 15-18 minutes, or until the tops have slightly cracked. Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before adding the icing.
Soak the orange peel in some orange extract and heat for about 30 seconds or so in the microwave, then allow to set for at least 5-10 minutes to soften before dicing them into very small pieces.
Remove all the pomegranate seeds from the skin and the pith and set aside.
While the orange peel is soaking, make the icing. I had some white frosting that I used, but it is very easy to make the icing with powdered sugar and butter. Whatever icing or frosting you are using, add the pomegranate juice and combine well. Spread the frosting/icing on top of the cookies and add both the pomegranate seeds and the candied orange peel on top of the cookies and let harden. Then share with friends and enjoy. 🙂 Someone accurately described these tasty cookies as a wassail in a cookie.
I was familiar with the gingerbread tradition in the Northern parts of Europe and Russia, but I was not familiar with the holiday traditions of the pomegranate until just now. I learned something new today. I hope you did too. 🙂
The holidays are here. Enjoy them all, whatever holidays you celebrate. Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.
I was out walking in our open space yesterday with my new blogger friend Laura from http://apictureasongaliteraryquote.wordpress.com/, when we encountered not one, not two, but three, maybe four, coyotes out in the open space with us. They were a little too close for our comfort, but all worked out well. I did get some great shots of them though.
Laura and I found out we live just minutes away from each other and decided it would be fun to meet up and go for a walk. We really enjoyed each other’s company and our walk, but we weren’t expecting all the coyotes as company. They are beautiful though. We hear them all them time, and we see them quite often, but not usually so many and not so close. They were definitely bolder than usual too. I am not afraid of them at all, but we were definitely on alert and were being very careful. We had no choice but to keep walking back “to civilization”, and fortunately after a few minutes, they turned to go the other way, but the experience did raise our hair up another level or two. They are really just big dogs, and my dogs are much bigger. 🙂
This one is hidden in the tall wild grass. He is camouflaged well.
Whether we want them to be or not, everyday is an adventure. Live life to the fullest and embrace all of life’s adventures. Stay safe and stay well.
For those of you who are photographers, you know that so much of what we “shoot” is luck and timing. As you all know, I love photography, particularly nature shots. And I love my birds too. It is hard to get good shots of birds in flight, but every now and then I get lucky and am able to snap off a few. Here are some of my recent shots of birds in flight, from ducks to hawks to egrets.
Who does not have a ton of leftovers after their Thanksgiving feast? If you are like me, you usually have a ton of leftovers. As you all know, I can get very creative with my leftovers, recreating them into something totally different that what they were when I first cooked them. That’s the fun part. There are lots of different mediums used to create art. Mine just happens to be recreating from my “firstovers” and changing them around to something completely new. I love doing that. 🙂
My latest recreation was a big pot of creamy pumpkin soup. The whole entire soup was recreated from leftovers. I still have a few more creative ideas in store too. You’ll just have to wait a bit longer for those to come your way. 🙂
My inspiration for this soup came from my pumpkin and shrimp pasta. More Pumpkin I had so much leftover from that, so I used it as my base. After our Thanksgiving feast, I used the rest of the roasted vegetables, the gravy and some of my turkey. Then I made turkey stock from the carcass and added that to the pot, as well as some more pumpkin/butternut squash sauce, some fresh herbs and a few more vegetables as well. And with a few twirls of my magic wooden spoon, this is what I got. YUM, YUM!
It was so good. And as usual, I had more leftovers than when I first started. I already have a few takers who are interested in some of the soup, which is good. I need help eating it. 🙂
It made for a simple meal of soup coupled with some warmed ciabatta bread and a cool, crisp chardonnay on the side. Larry topped his with a little cheese and then I added some fresh sage on top. After a big Thanksgiving feast, a simple meal was just what we needed.
As I always say, have fun, and play with your food. I always do. 🙂
Have a great day. Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.
I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving Day festivities. We had a great time. We had delicious food, great friends who are really family, and lots of laughs and lots of fun. Everyone around the table stated what they were thankful for, and not surprising at all, the most popular answer, even with the kids, was family and friends. Thanksgiving is all about love and being thankful for who and what we have been blessed with.
I was busy cooking, so I didn’t take a lot of pictures, but I did manage to take a few.
The meal focused around the “star” of the day, the turkey. This year we did something a little different. We brined it over night, like always, and then Larry smoked it. It was good, but my favorite way is still the old fashioned way, slow cooking it in the oven.
Gabe and his girls, Cora, Nahila, and Tehvia, 3 of my “nieces”.
We had all the traditional Thanksgiving foods, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, roasted vegetables, gravy, and herbed popovers. These were my contributions. Gabe made a big pan of mac ‘n cheese and Lauren brought some homemade cranberry chutney, cranberry brie puffs and a delicious Lemoncello cake for dessert. We placed the cake next to the pumpkin and pecan pies and the pomegranate molasses cookies I made. (Well I made the cookies. The pies I bought).
Mike and Lauren.
Thank you Mike, Lauren, Gabe, Cora, Nahila, Tehvia and especially Larry, for making this a very special Thanksgiving once again. Love you all and I am so thankful for all of you.
I brined the turkey in an apple cider brine this year. It was yet another new twist to a timeless classic.
Apple Cider Brine for Turkey
2/3 cup Kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
6 whole cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns, cracked
2 tsp whole allspice berries, crushed, or ground allspice
1 TBSP fresh ginger
2 bay leaves
6 cups apple cider
2 cups hot water
4 cups ice cold water
1 large navel range, cut into wedges
Mix the salt, sugar, apple cider, hot water and spices together in a large saucepan. Bring to a rapid boil and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat then add the ice cold water and the orange wedges. Bring to room temperature then pour over the turkey in a large baking bag and chill in the refrigerator over night. When you are ready to cook the turkey, discard the brine and season. And cook your turkey how you choose.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone. We all have so much to be thankful for everyday. ‘Til next time.
Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. It is about being thankful and appreciative for all that you have. It is about spreading love to others and helping those in need. It is about spending time with loved ones. I will be in the kitchen cooking in just a bit. You would think I would be making this elaborate meal, but in truth, it will be a simple meal for friends who have become family.
I will leave you with some quotes from others on this Thanksgiving day. May it be a blessed day for all.
For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, For love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)
We Give Thanks
Our Father in Heaven, We give thanks for the pleasure Of gathering together for this occasion.
We give thanks for this food Prepared by loving hands.
We give thanks for life, The freedom to enjoy it all And all other blessings.
As we partake of this food, We pray for health and strength To carry on and try to live as You would have us.
This we ask in the name of Christ, Our Heavenly Father.
From my house to yours, Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.
I love where we live. I love our lakes and all the variety of wildlife we have around us. You just never know what or who you are going to see on any given day. Today, out on he 4th lake, all my feathered friends were having some kind of a party. There wert so many different types of ducks and and loads of geese out too, all just having a blast swimming around in he cold, icy water. We had Hooded Mergansers, Ring-Necked Ducks, Mallards, Buffleheads, Barrow’s Goldeneyes and of course our Canadian Geese. I think I even saw a Cakling or two as well. Sometimes it is hard to tell. Fortunately I have a great zoom on my camera, which helps a lot. Sometimes I still can’t tell until I download everything on my computer and really zoom in. And even then, sometimes i have no idea what I just saw. 🙂
I am going to focus on my Barrow’s Goldeneyes today though, since these are my first of the season.
I hope your day is just ducky. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone. ‘Til next time.