Category Archives: In the Kitchen

Fallyet

Over the weekend, I had to grab a light sweater because there was a little breeze in the air.  I was so happy.  I am ready for Fall.  (I am always, always ready for Fall.)  Today, I let myself look at pictures of pumpkins from seasons past.  You know, just to get in the mood.

Every year around this time, I pull out Susan Branch’s Autumn book and dream about Fall recipes — cinnamon ice cream, soups, and hot beverages.  

Last year, I was talking about tea and my friend Joanna asked me if I had tried Teavana yet, but for some reason, I never followed up on her recommendation.  I finally went in for a taste test.  Oh what a terrible, potentially expensive mistake I’ve made.  Now all I can think about is their chai.  It was like all of my senses had awakened, thawed out by this ($$$) hot cup of spiced Autumn happiness.

teavana

Do you have a flavor that symbolizes Fall to you? I need something to distract me from this craving.  (And I’m really sorry if I’ve led anyone else down a very dark path…)

January Housekeeping

Home Made Simple has a few more articles of mine up — and these are all about making those January feel-good-clean-up-the-house changes.

HMS_4up

Hop on over to read my take on:

  1. How to fold towels. (I ended up doing this in my linen closet and it made SUCH a difference.  The linen closet has a long way to go but refolding everything took about 30 minutes and gave me hope!)
  2. Cleaning pillows.  (Since I am the princess-and-the-pea, none of my pillows last long enough to get all that dirty — but it really made me stop to think!)
  3. Re-using foil. (Now you’re just curious, right? I am not going to lie. My family made fun of me when I asked them to help me brainstorm ideas. I do use #2 all the time.)
  4. Creating unique family wall art. (Tip #4 is how we created our own gallery wall here.)

What are you doing around the house this month to give yourself a clean slate?

Filed under House & Home, In the Kitchen, Organization. Tagged with , , , , , .

Thanksgiving Menu for Rebels

Thanksgiving_lvs
I am hoping my parents are too busy to read this post, because if they do, I am going to get a phone call from Mom saying, “Dear, weren’t we just going to have turkey sandwiches? This sounds like too much work. You just moved!

I think they are worried I am going to try for a repeat of the Thanksgiving I hosted a few years ago in which we had enough food to feed a small army. Maybe that’s your Thanksgiving too. A turkey and a prime rib. Every side dish imaginable — both the traditional ones and a few we made up. I even cooked homemade marshmallows and cut them into little snowflake-shapes for after-dinner cocoa.

We didn’t actually drink the cocoa, because we were all too full. I was too tired from hours (days?) in the kitchen to even show my family the marshmallows, so they went directly from their little tin into the trash. My husband likes to remind me about those marshmallows anytime I think I’m going to be impressive.

Well, I could not pull that off again this year if I wanted to. I have one working burner on the stove (the other seems to work but fills the kitchen with smoke) and an oven I have used just twice so far.  I hate to test it’s temperature setting with a turkey. Cooking a turkey is a little bit of a mystery to me. So I’m going with an abbreviated, but still festive menu. Even when you’re busy, it can be good for the soul to stop and make time for a feast.

My Menu for Thanksgiving*
*in which we skip the turkey and just eat other foods we like instead:

  • Prime Rib with Au Jus: I rub the prime rib with butter, Lawry’s Season salt, and pepper, and then use these prime rib cooking instructions with my electric meat thermometer. Prime Rib is nerve-wracking because it costs a small fortune and you don’t want to mess it up, but the meat thermometer really makes it pretty foolproof.  Unfortunately, the thermometer will not help you plan how early to start the roast. I once served a roast several hours after the rest of the meal. However, it tasted so good that I am fairly sure people forgave me.
  • Au Jus: I make homemade beef stock the day before so I can make the Au Jus sauce. A necessity if you want to have Prime Rib French Dip sandwiches with your left-overs. Since you just spent your life savings on the roast, it will make you feel better to make the sandwiches. I also want you to know that this is the only time I make homemade beef stock. Please see above where I assure you: I am not that impressive.
  • Gravy: My husband’s one request. When we lived in L.A., there was a local Jewish deli that made really good gravy, so we just cheated and bought theirs.  (No one has to know.) I’m hoping to find a good, local place for gravy this year. We’ll see.
  • Asparagus: Washed, trimmed, and drizzled with olive oil and sea salt. Roasted in the oven and served plain. I sneak it in there on the lower rack beneath the roast and just adjust the cooking time depending on the oven temperature.
  • Spiced Cranberry Sauce: I don’t know if anyone else enjoys cranberry sauce with cinnamon and cloves like I do, so this may get skipped. However, I enjoy watching the berries simmer on the stove. Something about the bright red color makes me happy.
  • Pumpkin Pie: Using my pumpkin pie secrets. I think of this one as an “easy win,” plus it’s good to have something traditional so no one panics.

So all in all, it’s not a bad list and should not tax my one burner. The oven makes me nervous, but I think I’ll brave it anyway. I’m happy because I can make the ice cream, pie, and cranberry sauce ahead, so I just have to babysit the roast and make a few vegetables.

So now, it’s your turn: What do you serve at your house for the holidays? Have you ever been a rebel and switched up the menu on your unsuspecting family?

Filed under Fabric & Sewing, Holidays, In the Kitchen. Tagged with , , , .

Pumpkin Pie Secrets

MSL_Nov12 [Image: Martha Stewart Living]

At the grocery store this week, I saw that the November 2012 issue of Martha Stewart Living is already on newsstands. I looked down at my cart full of ingredients for pumpkin pie and dreamed of having a pie that was so evenly golden and covered in fluffy meringue.

Well, my version did not turn out as pretty as Martha’s, but it got a big thumbs up on taste. Since it’s the season for all things pumpkin, I thought I would share two easy secrets to take your pumpkin pie to the next level.

Pumpkin Pie Secret #1: I use the recipe on the back of the Libby’s Pure Pumpkin can. I know.  You’re thinking “What?! That is not a secret!”

Here’s our family tip. For each of the spices, instead of measuring them out precisely, I use heaping measurements. That extra spice really sets off the pumpkin flavor and takes your pie from good-but-maybe-bland to second-serving-needed-now-delicious.

Fall_leaf_cutters

Pumpkin Pie Secret #2: Find some autumn leaf cookie cutters. You can get a set of 6 Leaf Cookie + Crust Cutters at Sur La Table for $4 or find small leaf-shaped cookie cutters like the Wilton set pictured above at the craft store. Whether you are making your own pie crust or using a store-bought one, I think the trickiest part is getting a pretty edge when you roll the crust into the pan. Rather than fiddle with the crust, trying to get it even and pretty, I like to cover up the crust with the leaf shapes. My sister does the same and shows you how on her blog.

It sounds like an extra step, but I find it less stressful than trying to get a nice edge. Of course, we could create that gorgeous twisted shape on the Martha cover if we were baking pies once a week, but at least in my world, I am not. Each year when it’s time to make pumpkin pie, I find I am out of practice… again!

What about you: do you have any pie baking tips?

Filed under In the Kitchen. Tagged with , , , .

Weekly Status Report

gingerbread2

This has not been a very good week in the kitchen.

First, my husband was away on business which always causes me to revert to college-style eating.  You know when “box of cereal” at 9pm sounds like a good dinner that you’re in trouble.

Second, and more upsetting is that a worm crawled out of an apple as I was eating it.  (Seriously.)  According to my mom, I will not die — even though I think that is the exact opposite of what my Dad told me.  I’m pretty sure he was teasing.  Dad, you were teasing.  Right?

My sister’s response disturbed me the most.  She was the first person I called (after I stopped screaming) and her very helpful advice was “don’t eat any more of it!”  Is that even possible?  Can a person who was eating an apple with a worm in it keep eating it?!  Thanks Rebecca.  I really appreciate how you’re in my corner like that.

gingerbread

Anyway, I was thinking that what I would really like to do this evening is tie on an apron and make a gingerbread cake (recipe from Autumn from the Heart of the Home).  It’s served warm with lemon sauce and whipped cream.  Now wouldn’t that just set everything right?

I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of whatever comforts you the most.  I’ll be here, slicing all of my apples open and checking them — in case you were wondering.

Filed under In the Kitchen. Tagged with , .

Is it Fall yet?

Fallyet

Over the weekend, I had to grab a light sweater because there was a little breeze in the air.  I was so happy.  I am ready for Fall.  (I am always, always ready for Fall.)  Today, I let myself look at pictures of pumpkins from seasons past.  You know, just to get in the mood.

Every year around this time, I pull out Susan Branch’s Autumn book and dream about Fall recipes — cinnamon ice cream, soups, and hot beverages.  

Last year, I was talking about tea and my friend Joanna asked me if I had tried Teavana yet, but for some reason, I never followed up on her recommendation.  I finally went in for a taste test.  Oh what a terrible, potentially expensive mistake I’ve made.  Now all I can think about is their chai.  It was like all of my senses had awakened, thawed out by this ($$$) hot cup of spiced Autumn happiness.

teavana

Do you have a flavor that symbolizes Fall to you? I need something to distract me from this craving.  (And I’m really sorry if I’ve led anyone else down a very dark path…)

Filed under In the Kitchen. Tagged with , , .