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Archive for the ‘Kitchen Inspirations’ Category

from the garden

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garlic harvest 2021

It was a little scary planting the cloves last fall. Was the spacing right? Would there be enough sunlight? What about the darned squirrel that keeps digging in the dirt? In the end, it turned out alright. Only lost one bulb to the squirrel.

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An impromptu lunch with items from the fridge, from the garden and homemade on the spot (Steve’s seasoned mayo). Feel very grateful to have access to such goodies.

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red onions apple cider vinegar and thyme

It took me about a year but I finally stopped just dreaming and talking about pickling onions and finally just pickled the darn onions.

white onion red wine vinegar and oregano

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dianthus
viola
pansy

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three tomatoes on a windowsill

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While puttering around the kitchen this morning I suddenly yearned for a particular cup of tea. I could see it clearly, could almost smell it. But instead of Lipton tea with sugar and a long pour of Pet’s evaporated milk, I made myself some chai. I smiled at the memory though. Lipton’s was my mother’s tea. Really, the family’s tea. She never added anything except a bit of sugar but my brothers would empty the can of milk and the sugar bowl. Awhile back I noted my oldest brother’s grandson doing the same. I happened to be sitting by my brother at the time. I looked at him and with a raised eyebrow asked, “Well, I wonder where he learned that from?”

Yellow onions were a fixture in our home too. I’ve not cooked with them probably in 15 plus years having made a gustatory switch to red onions. But while walking through the grocery store earlier this month the yellow onions caught my attention. I was compelled to pick up one. Slicing through that first yellow onion brought tears to my eyes with its wonderfully pungent scent. A forgotten scent remembered. As I washed my hands before I accidentally rubbed my eyes I remembered how my father used to cry as he cut these same onions. It was a task that my mom often had him do. Now I know why. But I can’t help myself. Every time I cut one I now raise the half to my nose and inhale deep. I don’t feel compelled to eat them raw, as I must have as a child, and as I remember my father doing all the time. There is something simply serene in slow cooking with the onion, sauteing it in butter, or slicing it up for roasting vegetables. There is an upwelling of familiarity and home even in a different time and place and home.

There are other foods, flavors, scents from childhood that are “upwelling” this month. They come unbidden and they are welcome and so far they have always brought a smile.

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I’m thinking I have some learning to do about bringing outdoor herbs indoors for the winter. Some little creatures might come along for the ride. 🙂

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Pinto beans simmering in a pot with a ham hock and bay leaf. To my young mind, those beans seemed to cook all day. Then we ate it served over white rice. My father and I had sweet tooths. We spooned sugar on top of our beans and rice. It is the only dry bean I remember my mother cooking. I heard about red beans but she only cooked pinto (except, I forgot, for the black eyed peas you have to cook to ring in the New Year). I don’t remember if there was a particular day of the week for cooking beans and rice. For instance, pot roast, baked chicken, baked rice pudding, for example, they were Sunday foods, something special. I suspect beans were a weekday food because she could put the pot on the stove on a low flame and do all those other household tasks. Kale or collard greens might be served on the side. Probably mustard greens, too, but I didn’t like her mustard greens (another dish where my father would sprinkle some sugar). I remember the taste of kale seasoned with pork and spooning the potlikker that was left in the bottom of the pan. Once my younger brother was banished from the table for doing something rude and so I had the potlikker all to myself. That little hellion came up behind me and tossed in a handful of food scraps meant for Fuzzy, our dog. I was furious but I stilled loved him afterwards. That was in Virginia. Forty years later living in New England I’ve learned to play with my beans, making bean salads, mixing the colors and textures, sometimes getting so caught up in “painting” with the colors — red, white, black, green — that I lose sight of taste. But I have not done a thing with pinto beans. Until now. Why now? Because the Whole Foods shopper substituted a can of pinto beans for my requested can of white beans. The can is sitting on the kitchen counter. It makes me smile when I look at it. Soon I’ll open it. Served on the side will likely be kale cooked with olive oil and garlic. Brown rice most likely. No sugar anymore. Just good food and good memories to share.

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2009/04/potlikker-from-slave-plantations-to-today/7129/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/your-black-eyed-pea-questions-answered-1640029

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