Monday, June 13, 2011

Your own kitchen

While on vacation in Florida it came to my attention the importance of a stocked pantry, the proper tools and familiarity with a kitchen when it comes to cooking and baking.

We stayed at my sister and brother-in-law's house on the bay - absolutely gorgeous with a brand new incredible kitchen. The kitchen had pretty much everything I pine for in a gourmet kitchen. A Wolf gas range and oven, HUGE fridge and freezer, incredible sink and faucet, soapstone countertops, etc... I couldn't wait to cook something in there!

So after only one night I was asked to cook some Beef Stroganoff, which is one of the things I make that my sister just loves. After a fun day out and about we stopped by the grocery store and bought all the ingredients that she didn't have in her house and went home to prepare the meal. Because she has just completed the kitchen and hasn't really "moved in" completely, I found myself really at a loss for the proper tools to prepare my meal. I am good at improvising, but I must admit I think my Stroganoff suffered because I didn't have my stuff and my kitchen!

The next day I decided we needed some fresh bread and had to shop for all those ingredients too. Luckily I know almost all my recipes by heart, so I just mentally go over the list of ingredients and realized my sister's pantry was as bare as her pots, pans and tools! I had to make my bread in "boule" form because she didn't even have bread pans. I realized how spoiled I was with my wonderfully outfitted kitchen. The bread turned out great and I was thankful for sea-level and how much easier it made baking.

On Saturday we had a big neighborhood graduation BBQ to attend that was in honor of my niece and a good friend's son, who was also graduating. They asked me to please, please, please bake something for them, so I decided to make a double batch of Whoopie Pies to bring to the BBQ. After yet another trip to the grocery store for ingredients, a trip to the commercial kitchen store for baking pans, and more improvisation in the kitchen, we had a huge batch of Whoopie Pies cooling on the marble table. They turned out fantastic and once again I was secretly coveting the sea-level experience while still missing my perfectly appointed kitchen at 3500'!
My sister's Jack Russell, Daisy aka, Diamond, aka Dyn-o-mite, stole a couple cookies off the table before I caught her attempting a third pilfering, but otherwise the process wasn't too painful and we had some yummies to take to the party. To say they were a hit would be a gross understatement, but I don't want to brag (okay, yes I do!). We had to hide the pies when we arrived because we were sure they wouldn't last until the BBQ was served! We would catch people hiding them under their shirts, covertly taking bites when they thought nobody was looking. At the end of the BBQ, my family was caught hauling out 7 Whoopie pies alone...tsk, tsk, tsk!

We had a fantastic trip. We saw manatees, alligators, turtles, alligator gar, and many birds at Wakulla Springs outside Tallahassee. We had several small dolphin families surround the boat out in the Gulf. We held hermit crab races on the white sand beaches of the barrier islands and we had a blast on the water. It was wonderful to spend time with family and get to prepare them some goodies. My lesson from this trip is that a gorgeous kitchen might look good, but it has to function as well. I was really happy to come home to my less glamorous kitchen and be able to prepare pretty much anything without a trip to the grocery store and having all the proper tools needed. At least I made a big contribution to filling my sister's pantry for future visits! Do you have any baking powder??


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Painting and Life

Hi all!

Just got back from a 10 day excursion to sunny Florida to visit family and celebrate my niece's high school graduation. She graduated with honors and we are super proud of her! Can't wait to blog about her exciting new life at New College in Sarasota, FL.

Well, I wanted to update everyone on my newest endeavor, oil painting. I finally had my first "lesson" and it was SO MUCH FUN! The 5 hours just flew by and I really enjoyed the whole process so much. My first lesson was basically just about color mixing and the color wheel. I have to mix all my secondary and tertiary colors myself and this was a lesson in how to do that and then to recreate my own personal color wheel. This was my first time putting paint to the canvas and I was suprised to find the texture of the paint was simply gorgeous and reminded me of a super smooth frosting! I think I have had an artist bottled up inside me for a very long time because I felt very much at home in front of the easel!

I have attached a picture of my first oil painting and hope you like it as much as I do! It's now drying and will be framed and go up on the wall as soon as possible. I am off now to start my next apple.

I will keep you updated and hope you like what you see!