In the Kitchen

In the Kitchen, Sustainable Home Life

What do you scrub with?

Andy Warhol Brillo Soap Pads Box photo from  warhol.org

Andy Warhol Brillo Soap Pads Box photo from warhol.org

What do you scrub with? Now when I say that I am referring to your dishes, pots, pans. I grew up using brillo, well watching my mother use brillo and then eventually I used brillo. We do what our parents did right? That steel wool with pink powder caked on it, such a heavy, dried soap feeling. Up until last year I still did occasionally use brillo. Up until last year….. so what changed. And please note this is not a paid advertisement. I am getting no money for this. Just sharing something I like that is part of my journey for a more sustainable home and life.

I belong to a subscription service called Mighty Nest. Each month I am sent an item that is eco friendly, green and helping me live a healthier life. I have discovered so many items thru Mighty Nest. That I probably will share here so I am not going to tell you about them now. Sorry.

May I introduce you to the Spaghetti Scrub. It’s more like fettuccini and it has nothing to do with pasta grains. It comes from fabric and peach pits, which blows my mind!

the spaghetti scrub  photo from Mighty Nest

the spaghetti scrub photo from Mighty Nest

At first I was hesitant to try it, I don’t know why. Maybe it scared me a bit which I know sounds bizarre. Maybe I thought it would disintegrate once I used it. It doesn’t. It’s oddly sturdy and is way better than brillo. And it lasts and lasts. We are a family of 3 and cook dinner at home about 4 times a week. I use this scrub for pots and pans. Ours lasted a little over 6 months. And on the hands it is softer than brillo.

spaghetti scrub

How is it eco friendly? You don’t need to use soap, you can if you want but you don’t need to. It comes in brown paper packaging that is recycled and can be recycled again. Most sponges come in plastic wrap that end up in the landfill as well as that sponge.

Here is my second scrub that I just received. I was going to give it to someone but I decided to keep it for myself and buy more as gifts. I will try to remember and update this post once my scrub has disintegrated. But as I said, it takes awhile.

If you ever tried one or something similar I would love to hear about it.

Thanks for reading.

Tracey

In the Kitchen

My Favorite Homemade Salsa

FAVORITE SALSA

 

Years ago I worked in Nantucket, Massachusetts for a summer. Nantucket if you do not know is a little island in the Atlantic off of Cape Cod, 30 miles out to sea.  I was in college and worked as a chambermaid, yes that's what I was called. I was basically housekeeping at a bed and breakfast called the Four Chimneys.  One of the many jobs we had was to put out chef made snacks around 4 pm with wine and beer for the guests.  The chef, who was a student at The CIA at The Hotel School at Cornell, made the most delicious, refreshing salsa I ever tasted.  I learned it was from a book called Home Cooking from Nantucket by Nancy Asche Ivas.  

Now closed, The Four Chimneys Inn

Now closed, The Four Chimneys Inn

Now when I mentioned in the beginning that years ago I worked in Nantucket, I mean about 25 years ago.  At 18 I moved to Nantucket for the summer.  My second time to the island; my first being when I was 11 with my parents just for the day.   People say Nantucket is magical, a happy place and I think it may be.  I introduced my husband to the island when he was my then boyfriend.  He proposed to me on the island, and then we got married on the island.  There is something beautiful about it.  It is 30 miles out to sea and has a rich history.  A small village island in New England that is only a 30 minute flight from NYC.  

nantucket map.png

Looking back on it do all roads in my life lead to Nantucket? Even when I lived on the west coast I came to this island for vacations.

This is a great recipe to pack for a picnic because you can  make it a day in advance. And also this will last up to 2 weeks. That is if you don't eat it all right away. 

INGREDIENTS SALSA

Your ingredients:

4 ripe tomatoes (hello summer tomatoes!)

2 jalapeños (get out to that garden or fire escape and harvest your peppers)

1 small can tomato sauce or 1/4 cup V8

1 teaspoon garlic minced

salt to taste

2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped (window box herb garden)

1/4 cup onion, chopped

2 scallions

juice of 1 lemon or lime (optional)

1  1/2 tsp. olive oil

Directions: Combine all ingredients, I usually am in a rush and use a mini chopper but you can cut everything up by hand if you want.  If you want a chunky salsa you should manually cut up the ingredients.  Pour into a bowl or storage container. Store overnight so the ingredients can settle and do the work.  If you don't have over night time, you can also make in the morning or afternoon for dinner.  The salsa is still quite good but the jalapeños definitely need some time to heat up the salsa.  Enjoy!

Here is a link to the book  this can be purchased thru Nantucket Bookworks which is a small, independent book store on the island, and my favorite bookstore ever.

Enjoy!

In the Kitchen, Product

Tea Towel vs. Dish Towel

When I work at markets, which is a few times a year, many people ask what a tea towel is and what's the difference between a tea towel and a dish towel.  I usually respond with that a tea towel comes from the British tea time and it's a bit nicer way of saying dish towel .  Some believe that the quality of the towel is what distinguishes it.  Some towels are terry cotton (like a bath towel, a looped weave), flat cotton, linen or linen cotton. 

I found a very interesting article on Huffington Post.  It is  a few years old but still relevant. The author is Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson and she spoke with the American Textile Museum. 

Click here to read

I love the many historical reasons she discovered.  Tea towels are one of my main staples in the kitchen and in my Etsy Shop.  I find them to be totally utilitarian, a great gift when visiting friends for dinner or a longer period and a great gift to get people when traveling.  Are you as big a fan as me with tea towels?

Tracey

Baking, In the Kitchen

The Best Granola

FRESH GRANOLA

I know there are numerous recipes out there for granola. And a zillion choices to buy at the store but there is something special about making your own.  First it's super easy, two it's not that expensive to do, three you can do it with kids, four you know what you are putting into it, five filling your kitchen with a sweet and toasted seed smell is the best.

I've been experimenting with different recipes and this one I think may be the best. And coincidentally it is called the Best Granola. I think the secret ingredient which is not so secret, is the salt.  I also like the fact that you can mix it up and use what you have on hand.  Or don't have. 

The Kitchn has quite a number of granola recipes.  But this is my favorite. Click here to visit their website. 

Makes about 6 cups granola

 

Ingredients

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 to 2 1/2 cups your choice of nuts and seeds*
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 cup oil, such as olive oil
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon liquid sweetener, such as honey or maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cups dried fruits, chopped

Note: Nuts that are already roasted should go in at the end after the granola is baked so as not to burn.

Equipment

Mixing bowls
Measuring cups and spoons
Spatula
Parchment
Half-sheet pan or baking shee

Instructions

1. Set out your ingredients: For this particular run of granola we are using: 3 cups old-fashioned oats, 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup sesame seeds, 1/2 cup almonds, 1/2 cup wide-flake, unsweetened coconut (added near the end of baking), 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 3/4 cup dried cherries, chopped (added at the end), 1 cup roasted pistachios, chopped (added at the end)

2. Preheat oven and mix dry ingredients: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the oats and any untoasted nuts or seeds together in a large bowl. Stir to combine.

3. Mix in the spices: Add salt, cinnamon, and cardamom and stir thoroughly to combine.

4. Stir in the liquids: Stir in the oil, sweetener, and vanilla.

5. Bake the granola: Turn the granola out onto a parchment-lined half-sheet pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the mixture is light brown and toasty.

6. Stir the granola: Stir every 15 minutes or so for an even color and to make sure the granola is cooking evenly. (If using coconut, add in the last 15 minutes of baking.)

7. Prepare any late-addition ingredients: Roughly chop any dried fruits and roasted nuts being added after baking.

8. Stir in late-addition ingredients: Remove from the oven and add the chopped dried fruits and any roasted nuts at this time. Stir to combine.

9. Let the granola cool: Let cool before enjoying. The granola will continue cooking just a bit in the cooling process — it will firm up/dry out, so if it seems a little too wet don't worry.

10. Store the granola: Store in an airtight container and it should stay fresh for 7 to 10 days. For longer shelf life, store in the refrigerator.

Additional Notes:

1. Want Clumpy Granola? The key to getting chunkier granola is not to mix the granola as it's baking. Pat the wet mixture down into the baking sheet with the back of a spatula and don't mix it or disturb it while baking. Then, after cooking, you can remove it from the pan in granola chunks and store as indicated above.

2. Nuts and Fruits: I love working with sliced almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts and sesame seeds. As for fruits, dried cranberries, cherries, apricots, raisins and currents are all great choices. Experiment with different combinations to find your favorite!

3. Consider Your Oats: Make sure to use old-fashioned oats for your granola, not quick-cooking oats. quick-cooking oats are less substantial and will cook differently and result in an almost dusty granola texture.

4. Bulk Spices: When buying spices for your granola, buy in bulk! It's almost always the freshest.

5. Mixing Techniques: While granola is absolutely a one-bowl affair, you want to mix all of your dry ingredients together before adding your wet ingredients so as to avoid clumping of salts and spices.

6. Don't Fear the Salt! Salt enhances the flavor of your granola — most people don't use enough of it! Use it.

7. Experiment with Savory Additions: I use olive oil for my granola which gives it a special toastiness. I also love using cacao nibs and a little extra salt, all of which result in an almost savory granola. Explore that savory edge!

I copied and pasted their recipe.  However the photos are all mine.  I have made this many times and make it different each time.  Enjoy! 

granola recipe
best granola ingredients
parfait

My favorite way to eat granola, fruit and yogurt combo!

Easy to take on the go using a mason jar. 

In the Kitchen

Favorite Winter Soups

One of my favorite parts of winter is the soup.  I love to make soup possibly more than eating it.  A few winters past I added a slow cooker to my utensil collection.  I haven't used it much this winter.  I want to, but I keep finding soup recipes that call for your basic soup pot and blender.  I do have a Le Crueset that I love.  That is my go to now whenever I am cooking soups or pastas.  

I wanted to share some of my favorite soups this season.  Along with my new favorite and go to cook book, Small Victories by Julia Turshen.  And one of the bonuses of this book, also the title, are the little victories she includes with each recipe.  Don't have a complete recipe, she may give you a substitute. 

Every recipe I have tried so far has been a total success with myself andy family.  The chicken soup is a classic and perfect for a winter's day.

My next favorite soup recipe this season is another chicken soup but this one has dumplings it.  I just love the dumplings and they are super easy to make.  This recipe comes from the Whole Foods Cookbook.  

chicken soup 1
chicken soup finished

My third and final recipe is also from Whole Foods. This is the Butternut Squash Puree.  Last night I was trying to use what we have in the fridge.  I purchased a pre cut pound of butternut squash that afternoon so this was perfect.  I recipe calls for 2 pounds so I did the math. It was rather quick to cook and then pureed it.   They also add a little tip to add cinnamon raison croutons, which I also had on hand!  My one little mistake was I think I added a little too much ginger.  So proceed with caution!

butternut squash before the puree. 

butternut squash before the puree. 

Let me know what you think if you try any of the above recipes.  Or do you have a go to for this winter?

Tracey