“In My Kitchen” August 2020

Since I became a public school teacher (way back in the day), August has always marked the end of summer for me.   I am still involved with a public school setting today, but this year is totally different.   As an outside agency employee, we are not even sure when we can return to travel.  Our best guess right now is after Labor Day.  We are definitely thinking outside the box as we try to plan virtual meetings with teachers and administration as well as trainings for new teachers and getting college-access information out to all students without one-on-one time.   It is a different time to say the least.

Anywhoo, welcome to August’s “In My Kitchen.”  (IMK is hosted by Sherry’s Pickings.)

First up, I recently received this publication in the mail.  It was unsolicited but I am pretty sure it was a prize for being a runner-up in a Taste of Home contest.   I’ve won some of these before.  The problem is if you’re not published in one of their magazines OR receive a check (which has only happened once), you have no idea which recipe won.   That aside, this is a great addition to my “to make from” stack.

Forgive the state it’s in.  I was reading it on the patio when it first came and accidentally left it outside.  🙁

I also just bought this cookbook:

The Sqirl Jam Book (Jelly, Fruit Butter, and Others) by Jessica Koslow was recommended to me via Beth Fish Reads.    I haven’t made anything from it yet, but it reminds me of my favorite jam cookbook, Blue Chair, so I think I will love it.

Every year for Christmas, my sister gives me chive blossom vinegar and malt vinegar that she makes herself.  I have never tried to infuse any.  This year, I told her that I would swap her some tarragon vinegar since mine has lived through the winter for about four years.  Infusing vinegar is so simple.  Sterilize a quart jar, heat white vinegar (or your choice) to 160 degrees, place vinegar and herbs in the jar, seal and wait for a month.  Strain and pour the jar contents into a bottle (which helps with oxidation).   I also made a Spicy Italian vinegar using sprigs of basil, thyme, rosemary, and oregano with some red pepper flakes and garlic.  It’s delicious.  I made some for her and stored it away for gifts but then I found these recipes and had to try it:  Tarragon-Marinated Vegetables (wonderful!!!!)   I’ve made some other salads with both of these vinegars.  I am having to make her more for Christmas!

I try to get up early before work every morning and catch up on reading blogs.  I saw a recipe for sourdough strawberry bread at Culinary Adventures with Camilla and had to make it.  I highly recommend you doing the same!

I had a huge garlic harvest and made one batch of Thai sauce.  That may show up in some Christmas stockings, too.

Speaking of harvests, here’s what I picked one morning from our garden.  See zucchini, Japanese eggplants, tomatoes and one cucumber.

So, I’ve made lots of zucchini bread and a few entrees (like “Lettuce Wrap” Zucchini Boats and Zucchini Noodles with Pesto) and one dessert (Zucchini-Apple Ginger Cake).  I found a great zucchini pickle that almost tastes like a bread and butter pickle.  The next time I make these, I’m going to add onions.  The recipe, Zany Zucchini Pickles, is from Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving.   

I recently posted for the June/July Cook the Books selection, Kitchen Chinese.   I found a lot of authentic recipes in the book that I wanted to make but I ended up posting a chili-infused brownie (which was mentioned in the final chapter).  There was a lot on my “want-to-make” list, including “Ants on a Tree” and Di San Xian.  Since I had eggplant from the garden, I decided to try the latter.  IT IS DELICIOUS and is now in our recipe rotation.  I used a recipe found here:

Di San Xian (Fried Potato, Eggplant and Pepper in Garlic Sauce 地三鲜)

There’s unfortunately no accompanying photo from my kitchen, but trust, me.  It’s delicious.

And, speaking of Cook the Books, I’m hosting the August/September round with Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown.  Grab a copy and join us.

You can read an announcement post here.

My most recent acquisition and new found love is Smoked Cheez-Its.   Trust me, these are delicious and addictive.  We found them at a local bakery/smoke shop that we stop at on our way to the lake.  These will be on our boat menu from now on.  

I have researched recipes a bit and have found a few vague ones—“toss with your favorite spices and smoke until desired taste is achieved.”   That’s no help.

Please check out all the happenings in kitchens around the world at Sherry’s Pickings this month.  Until next month….

Be safe.

Be well.

Keep smiling.

15 comments to “In My Kitchen” August 2020

  • mae

    Your kitchen is really seeing lots of good things this month, and new ones too. I never met a cheezeit I didn’t love, so those look great. Ironic about the Squirl Jam book — I assume you saw all the very negative news about the Squirl restaurant, where they had buckets of jam covered with really icky mould but were still scooping it out and selling it.
    Link if you didn’t see it: https://www.eater.com/2020/7/13/21322462/sqirl-jam-mold-moldgate-jessica-koslow

    Your new vinegar and pickles look very nice.

    be well… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    • Had no idea. I’ve quit watching the news and have never had a great social media presence so I am often out of the loop. This sheds an entirely new light on the book. As I was reading about mold-gate, I kept wondering about the amount of sugar she was using. I will reflect on the book and the recipes. Good to know!

  • wow the zucchini are really huge! That strawberry cake looks awesome.

    • Thanks, Angie. They can get pretty big and still be usable. I would recommend Camille’s recipe for that strawberry bread!

  • I make tarragon vinegar all the time, but that Spicy Italian vinegar sounds better / perfect. So, that will be my next one. Be safe, and hope you find a way to navigate around the school year.

    • I will be making tarragon vinegar this season (or at least enough to last me through the winter) and I’m not gifting out all that Spicy Italian either. Thanks for the good thoughts. I send up good thoughts daily for all those administrators out there!

  • I don’t watch TV news but I do get some updates via Twitter. I didn’t know about the jam and mold story.
    I have that CtB book on a hold at the library so if it doesn’t arrive in time for me to participate/have tme to make something – I will buy it. This sounds like a book I would enjoy.

    BY the way, speaking of Cook the Books – this book by Barbara O’Neal (When we believed in Mermaids) is chock full of food! It would make a good selection there, imo.

    • I read the paper and catch some local news at night. Perfect Wife should be a pretty quick read. Hope you get it in time. Checking out Mermaids for a possible selection for sure.

  • Liz

    You have a lot more fun things going on in your kitchen than I do! As far as smoked Cheez-Its, Kim B has a recipe on her grilling site: https://kissmysmoke.com/smoked-cheez-its/

    • Thanks, Liz. I stopped by Kim’s site earlier but I guess I didn’t scroll far enough down for the recipe. I was stuck on “Add ingredients and smoke.” 🙂 Thanks for sending me back there. (I seriously doubt I have more going on in my kitchen than you do….) 🙂

  • wow i was just reading about the mouldy jam! what a story. then again, i think a bit of mould is okay, just scraped off. i tend to do that a bit with things like sour cream… Thanks heaps for joining in this month. I can’t believe how quickly the year is going.
    keep well

    • I’ve scraped off mold too, if the truth be known. But, I’m not in a commercial setting. Have a great August, Sherry. See you in September! (Isn’t that a song?) 🙂

  • That Chinese dish is one of my favorites! It’s called Three treasures of the ground referring to the eggplant, potato and capsicum. In northern China it’s very popular but I prefer the home versions as it’s less oily

  • Would have loved to be in your kitchen the day you took all these pictures. What great stuff!!!