Sunday, January 25, 2009's cold in here!!

The ancient Romans venerated the Penates, a group of lesser deities that protected the household.  They had gods for the roof, the floor and even the pantry.  If , the Ancient Romans had the modern miracle of refrigeration, they surely would have had the deities for that as well.  Keeping with the theme of this month's blogs, I am now going to help you with the stocking of your freezer.  But, firstly I would recommend stocking up on good freezer plastic bags and aluminum foil.  Of course, this list is just the essentials:

Frozen lemonade concentrate
Frozen orange juice concentrate
assorted veggies
green beans
ginger ( just take some fresh ginger root, put in a baggie and freeze)
vanilla ice cream
ground beef (make sure to put in extra baggie to prevent freezer burn)
chicken breast - boneless and skinless (make sure to put in and extra bag to avoid freezer burn)
chicken thighs - boneless and skinless (make sure to put in extra baggie to avoid freezer burn)
Whole chickens
Really good Vanilla ice cream
Your favorite ice cream
pie crust
Chicken stock (my homemade)
Beef stock (homemade)
Marinara (homemade)

Although I have previously listed chicken stock, beef stock and marinara in your pantry items, If I end up with left over stock and sauce at the end of a recipe, I like to buy plastic containers to freeze the leftovers in to be used later.

As far as the frozen ginger goes, it can be stored, unpeeled for 6 months.  It is very handy to have around for Asian cuisine, but also  it makes a great tea, or lemonade which works as an anti-inflammatory, and also aids in relieving nausea.  You will not get the same flavor or effects for dried ground ginger.

Also, be careful on choosing frozen, pre-cooked meals.  They tend to have a lot of hidden salt.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A memorable day

When I was 20 years old , I decided to take a study abroad and I packed my bags and moved to Austria to study music.  Although, it was a wonderful and exciting time in my life, I became homesick.  I, like the other American students,were lucky enough to be invited to Vienna for a party , that was being thrown at the American embassy for the Fourth of July celebration.  The Austrian officials were very thoughtful, they provided us with an "American lunch".  They actually had BBQ and hot dogs and such.  They then had the Vienna Boys choir sing our national anthem.  It was really beautiful.  I started to cry, and for the first time in my life I really felt a deep fondness and pride in my country.  Not that I didn't love my country before, but, I think that it was the first time in my life, I was away, on my own, in a different country, and I realized how much I missed it.

Yesterday, I felt that pride and deep patriotism again.  The Inauguration of Barack Obama was historic on so many levels.  I have never seen, in all my years, so many Americans, openly celebrating one common event that linked all of us together.  There were block parties and inauguration breakfasts all over my neighborhood and the bay area.  Not only that, but there were celebrations all over the world.  The feeling of hope and good will were infectious.  I hope your day was just as joyous.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Stocking your Pantry - The Basics

Stocking your pantry is a wonderful convenience, that saves you money and time.  Imagine less last minute trips to the grocery store, and always having the ingredients around to make a terrific homemade meal.    Later this week, I'll be adding thoughts on a well stock refrigerator, spice rack and freezer as well.   In the spirit of using and loving your kitchen.  Here is a list of all the basics you should have in your panty.  Please note;  items in your pantry should be stored in clean, dry, cool area, away from the refrigerator exhaust or the stove.  Check the expiration date for each item and rotate out stock when appropriate.

Dry goods - 

Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Bread Crumbs: Japanese, Italian, Plain
Brownie Mix
Cake mix
Cereal:  Your favorite
Chocolate chips:  semisweet
Cocoa Powder:  unsweetened
Coffee:  instant, espresso, and regular
Cream of Tartar
Dry Gelatin
Flour:  All Purpose
Oats:  Instant and Rolled
Pasta:  Several varieties
Pudding mixes (dry)
Ramen noodles
Rice:  Jasmine, Brown, Arborio, wild mixes
Sugar:  Regular, Brown
Yeast : dry, active

Fruits and Vegetables:

Beans:  Canned and raw, Black, white, pinto, kidney
Canned fruit:  Your favories
Canned vegetables:  Your favorites
Corn:  canned, ceamed, whole kernal
Dried Fruits:  Cranberries, Raisins, Golden Raisins, Apricots, Prunes, Blueberries, Cherries
Fruit Preserves:  your favorites
Garlic:  Dry and jar
Green chiles (diced and canned)
Peanut Butter
Tomatoes: Dried , packed in oil
Tomatoes: Canned , whole, crushed
Tomato Paste:  I prefer the one that comes in the toothpaste style tube.  More economical.

Oils and Vinegars - 

Oils:  extra virgin olive, olive oil, vegetable, peanut garlic
Non-stick oil spray
Vegetable Lard
Vinegar: White wine, Red wine, Balsamic, cider, distilled white, rice wine

Sauces and flavorings - 

Beef Broth
Beef Bullion
Chicken Broth
Chicken Stock
Corn Syrup
Dry Mustard
Maple Syrup
Mustards:  Dijon, Spicy Brown
Orange Extract
Salad dressings:  your favorites
Soy sauce
Vanilla extract
Worcestershire sauce


Nuts:  assorted
Soups:  Cream of Mushroom, Tomato, your favorites
Spaghetti Sauce:  ( although, I like to occasionally make my own and freeze it)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The generation of "Broken Promises"

I live in an old Victorian home in Northern California.  The streets of my town are lined with these graceful grand ladies.  Some of them date back to the 1860's, lovingly festoons with corbels, crown moulding, and stained glass windows.  On the other side of my town is a recently built gated community with ever-so-close, large cookie cutter style houses with huge bathrooms and modern appliances.

Like any nosey neighbors, my friend Sandi and I , on a lazy Sunday decided to take a tour of the model homes.  We followed the dancing sign holder and began the tour.  Truth be told, Sandi and I are partial to our old houses and would probably never consider a move to one of these houses. One of the trends that I noticed, were that the grand kitchens/great room design of these houses.  And, I must admit, that it would be really nice to have a large kitchen to entertain in.  After all,  at every party I have ever been too, the guest gravitate towards the delicious  aromas in the kitchen, where we drink a glass of wine and have some laughs.  While on our tours, I daydreamed about a lovely Christmas party with crystal champagne flutes and petit fours.  I then began to contrast that lovely scene with my own kitchen and thought... if only...

The kitchen in my house is noticeable smaller than the grand kitchen/great room of its modern counterpart.  Strangely, though, Victorians had greater uses for their kitchens.  While the era of,  "dining as entertainment" and fast foods was decades out of their reach, our grandmothers spent a great deal of time in their kitchens.  And, as in our modern era, I am sure the party guest ended up in this room as well.  Surely, someone would have designed a larger kitchen for the housewife of yesteryear. 

Which begs the question:  Why do modern houses place so much emphasis on the large kitchen?  Most modern peoples eat dinner out at least twice a week.  we rarely eat lunch at home anymore and when we do eat at home, we need a quick meal, because our daily live are packed solid with homework, projects, doctor's appointments, etc...  I have some friends who have never cooked a meal, their kitchens are nothing more than a fancy place holder for their coffee maker.

I came to realize that when we purchase a home, shampoo, a cell phone.  We are not purchasing the product as much as purchasing the promise.  The promise of that thing that we want most.  The promise that this product, large or small, will give us, admiration from our peers, extra time with family and friends, gorgeous thighs, whiter teeth, or the perfect golf swing.  Then that  grand kitchen/great room is just a symbol of those broken promises we make to ourselves.  Sure, there are always exceptions.  But, more often than not, we expect products and services to add richness to our existence instead of finding that richness within ourselves.  My grandmother made the most delicious peach cobbler, and she didn't need  a state of the art kitchen to do it.

Two years ago my fiance and I had a roommate.  He was going through some tough times and he asked if he could share our food with us.  We agreed, but soon realized that he ate everything in the cupboard that didn't require any preparation, or minimal preparation.  You know: potato chips, microwave burritos, macaroni and cheese from a box.  He also drank all of the soda and fruit juices.  I soon realized that Maurice (my fiance) and I had to prepare every meal from raw ingredients, and since we were stretching our food budget to  feed another adult, going out for food, or even pizza delivery was out of the question.

The results were surprising.  I started to really enjoy my kitchen, I spent lots of time in there now and I looked forward to cooking.  I loved experimenting with new herbs and spices, My culinary skills improved drastically.  Maurice started bragging to his coworkers about the new recipes.  We spent time together, talking and laughing.  We started looking forward to packing lunches.  We lost weight without even trying.  We spent less time in front of the t.v. and had more energy.    We even managed to save money in the process.

We now only buy raw ingredients, everything is cooked fresh everyday.  We still eat out, but it is usually for a special event or occasion.  We still have fast food, but only as a last resort, and we make better choices.  We actually pack lunches.  Oh... and the roommate complained that we were starving him out, and moved.

So, this month's focus is on getting to love your kitchen again.  Everything from a properly stocked pantry, to great recipes you will love.  So, let's keep that "promise" of a tricked out kitchen.  



Monday, January 5, 2009


Hi everyone:

For years, friends have been telling me, that I should write down all of the helpful hints and bits of wisdom handed down by my Grandmother, Mother, Aunts and generally wise women that I have met over the years.  In these difficult economic times, I think we could all use these hints more than ever.  I also hope that responders will share some of their own hints.  I plan to include some funny stories and some of my favorite quotes, and general thoughts.

I hope you'll join me on this journey.

Love to you,


Custom Search