11 kitchen tips


Every kitchen has its own rhythm. It takes time to create a flow, and to become accustomed to a new pattern when you move to a new place. After awhile, with practice, you move through your space without having to think too much about it. What was once like a rehearsal, with repeated stops and starts, eventually becomes like a well-performed dance from refrigerator to pantry to stove to sink. I love the kitchen dance. I don’t feel alone when it’s a solo turn, because I’m surrounded by the smells and sounds of food, and I get to play with whatever colors my cupboard holds. Sometimes, with two people in the kitchen, the dance is a duet, and sometimes it’s a competition. With several people, it’s a choreographed piece that goes smoothly if everyone remembers their moves, or quickly whirls out of control if someone forgets their place. You might think, in these days of celebrity chefs, or on a very good day in your kitchen, that the cook is the star, but you’d be mistaken. It’s always the food. In my kitchen, I’m just happy to be a part of the show.

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hiro and the creatures in the garden

I admit, the whole incident was probably my fault. I’d let the herbs overgrow a bit too much because I just didn’t feel like dealing with them. Even though I usually keep a tidy garden, and an eye on those wayward mint roots and the sneaky grass weeds, the abundance of herbs has been overwhelming. As it turns out, it’s a good idea to keep things trimmed on a regular basis, because you never know what will decide to take residence among the overgrowth. When you have a garden, some creatures are to be expected, and even welcomed, and others, well, not so much.

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keeping herbs

During the month of July, our house was filled with Southern home-grown fruit. From our own garden, we had ripe cantaloupe and plump figs, and from the South Florida farm of a neighbor’s relatives, we had platanos burros (bananas), Russell avocados, and the national fruit of Cuba, mamey. From the surplus of fruit I made fig jam, figs filled with gorgonzola and wrapped in prosciutto, fig tarts with honey, cantaloupe wrapped with prosciutto, guacamole, avocado remoulade, an adapted version of plátanos maduros (fried sweet plantains) using the bananas fried in coconut oil, banana cookies, banana muffins, and a smoothie. I also experimented a little with the mamey, puréeing and flavoring it with the same ingredients as this sweet potato dish. We ate some of all that fruit plain and simple too, most often for breakfast. It was a good month. 

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wintering herbs


About a month ago, just before the start of Fall, I began the process of transitioning our herbs from the raised bed garden outside to smaller containers inside. While I waited for the herb cuttings to root, I harvested loads of sweet and hot peppers and picked sweet, ripe cantaloupe. I also picked at least forty cucumbers. Then I decided to remove the cucumber plant. Though we still have a few weeks before the first frost occurs, the cucumber plant’s leaves and vines had become progressively more diseased and shriveled, and frankly, I’d had more than enough cucumber. In fact, after growing it, I realized I don’t like cucumber nearly as much as I thought I did. So, to deal with the remaining pile of cucumbers, I’ll be pickling some to eat and freezing some for smoothies for my husband.

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