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Showing posts from April, 2011

Pantry Master List

I'm someone who likes to cook on a daily basis and bake as often as possible.  Having a well-stocked pantry is essential for my endeavors in the kitchen and I never like to feel limited.  I know it's not always feasible to have everything one needs at all times, but I try very hard to keep my must-haves on hand.  We all have our own style of cooking and your pantry may be completely different from mine.  Keep in mind that this is a master list, one from which you can cook just about anything.  Pick and choose according to your needs and likes. ~ Organizing a Pantry ~ Grains & Flours Store in airtight containers. unbleached all-purpose flour, bread flour, whole wheat flour (store in freezer), cake flour (not self-rising), yellow cornmeal (refrigerate), white cornmeal(refrigerate), masa harina, cornstarch, arrowroot, old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant), extra-long grain white rice (not parboiled), extra-long grain brown rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice, Japanese sh

Organizing Your Pantry

I like having one place for all of my baking and cooking essentials.  In our former Haddonfield home, I had to make do with a small laboratory cabinet that was tucked into a dark corner on the way to the basement.  Our current kitchen has a simple built in with adjustable shelves, right next to my dough counter.  It certainly isn't large by any means, but it serves its purpose and I love it.  Here is how I organize my pantry. This is my small pantry area.  Antique Ball jars hold my legumes.  The were bought at the Haddonfield Antique Center. Click here  and take a look at the store. ~ Pantry Master List ~ Adjustable shelves allow me to store bulky items. The top shelf has excess spices and food storage material.  The second shelf holds extracts, honeys, teas and coffee.  These shelves hold pastas, canned goods, condiments, salt & pepper mills, some cereal and wide mouth, Martha by Mail 2 gallon apothecary jars filled with rice, granulated

Woodland Wonders

I love taking daily walks, not only for the physical exercise, but also for the learning experience.   Just the other day, I went into the woodland that surrounds our home with my camera in hand and I glimpsed at some of the first signs of spring.  To my surprise, I discovered some plant material and trees that even I didn't know we had.  Perhaps it's part of my curiosity, but I like to know exactly what I have in my own backyard.  With several acres surrounding us, it's sometimes a challenge to accomplish this.  Take a look at a few of the discoveries I made in the woodland the other day.     This is one of the numerous walking trails just behind the house.  The path is flanked by pachysandra and a few daffodils that are just starting to come out of the ground.   A bridge that goes over a tiny brook. I love standing here. A patch of hostas is coming along quite nicely.  To think that just a few months ago this was all covered in so much snow.  

Natural Air Freshener

Let's face it, we have all had something in our home whose unpleasant smell permeated every room.  There's no reason why one should put up with such odors when there's a quick, natural solution.  Before you reach for a can of spray or some fragrant candle, why not try this?  Slice up half a lemon (or an entire one) and add it to a small pot of water.  Depending on what you have in your cupboard, you can add about 12 cloves or two tablespoons of mulling spices to this (two cinnamon sticks also work).  Turn on your burner and let this mixture simmer on the stovetop for about 15 minutes.  In no time, your home will be fragrant and free of those nasty odors.    I'm using mulling spices here. I like to do this while I'm cleaning up the kitchen and it's so much nicer than using something artificial.  This is especially useful if you have family members with allergies or are highly sensitive to chemicals in your home.  Trust me, your home will smell much better.

Forsythia

Forsythia x intermedia always enhances the landscape during spring.  The bright yellow flowers really stand out with breathtaking beauty wherever you plant them.  Around my neighborhood, so many people like to line their driveways with these shrubs or place them around the perimeter of their properties.  They do seem to provide a good screen for privacy, which is especially useful if you don't have a fence demarcating your property line.  I highly recommend that you ask your local nursery for help when choosing these shrubs, because there are several varieties from which to plant.    The landscape is ablaze in bright yellow. These particular ones get a minimum amount of pruning, hence their wild appearance.   Here's a closeup of these pretty flowers. A few branches in a vase make a beautiful spring arrangement.   This shrub is down by a glade where we have  spore-bearing fronds of some ostrich ferns.     The flowers bloom before their leaves appear and their color is j

Tortilla Española

Spanish tortillas are those thick, round omelets filled with potatoes and onions, that I love to eat on the weekends for a light lunch.  I'll show you how I make my version of the Tortilla Española or Tortilla de Patata, which differs a bit from the ones you'll find in Spain or at the budding tapas restaurants that seem to be popping up everywhere.  One thing you won't find in those versions is jalapeño peppers.  I like the little bit of heat these peppers give off, but you can omit them if you want.  My version is also a bit thinner because I use less potatoes.  Let's get started, I'm hungry.    The Ingredients 6 large eggs 1 1/2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced  (Idahoes, New or White potatoes can be substituted) 1 medium yellow onion thinly sliced 1-2 seeded and sliced jalapeños (optional) 6-8 tablespoons olive oil   Peeling your potatoes is optional; the skins have a good amount of fiber.  If they're organic simply

Soap Bottle

I believe this was one of Martha Stewart Living's first 'good things' to be introduced to us almost 20 years ago.  It is perhaps the easiest thing you can do to make your sink look neat and orderly.  The moment I see one of these in someone's home, I immediately know that I'm in the presence of a kindred spirit.  There are many types of soap dispensers available to the consumer these days, so let your tastes dictate what you want to have in your kitchen.  This is how I keep my liquid dishsoap. I recycled a wine bottle that held some French rosé.  This one is embossed with the letters CP.  Choose one that's clear and simply fill with your preferred liquid dishsoap.  Don't forget to buy a pouring spout.    I think I've had this bottle & spout for about 11 years now.  That antique Portuguese pig will be a future Good Thing.   If you do make one of these for your kitchen, why not fill an extra one to give to a friend who's just moved into a ne

Pesto My Way

Do you have a favorite pasta sauce?  I do.  It's pesto.  To my mind, the pure flavor of basil, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil & a bit of garlic and cheese makes it the perfect pasta sauce.  These days there are so many things labeled "pesto" in cookbooks and at supermarkets, that I think we tend to forget the original Genoese version.  The basil should be farmer's market or garden fresh, the extra virgin olive oil should be your favorite kind (I like Spanish) and the Parmesan should be grated by hand (the kind you find in a can doesn't work).  I actually had to take measurements to provide you with a recipe, but I normally just eyeball it when I make this at home.  I keep it on hand at all times because it's so delicious.  Let me show you how easy it is to make. The Ingredients 2 packed cups fresh basil, washed and dried--organic of possible 2 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a garlic press 2 tablespoons pine nuts--almonds or wa