Monday, February 15, 2021
Wednesday, February 3, 2021
Thank you to everybody who participated in my giveaway.
Third place in the 2020 photos goes to "Through the Lens".
The beautiful "California Poppies" took second place.
Thursday, January 28, 2021
When I wrote about the food we ate in the fall, some of you expressed interest in the recipe of the skillet balsamic garlic chicken. I got this recipe from my friend Liz who provided me with some wonderful recipes when our oven broke down last spring and I was limited to meals that you can prepare on the stovetop. I'm not sure where she got the recipe from, so unfortunately I cannot tell you the source.
This dish cooks up fast as soon as you are done with all the prep work.
Here's what you need:
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, sliced or pounded 1/2 inch thick (I slice mine, and I also sometimes substitute the breasts for chicken thighs)
- salt and pepper
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 pound mushrooms, sliced (I used crimini)
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 TBSP butter, cubed
- Season the raw chicken with salt and pepper.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and, when hot, place the chicken in the skillet. Cook it on one side for about 5 minutes until browned, then flip and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and the mushrooms to the pan and stir to combine. Work the mushrooms under the chicken, so it sits on top of the mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes until the mushrooms begin to soften. Add in the vinegar, broth, bay leaf and thyme.
- Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Then uncover the skillet and cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes to sligthly thicken the sauce.
- Add in the butter and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Serve over rice, pasta or potatoes. We like to eat it over couscous.
Saturday, January 23, 2021
Just like in the past three years, January is the month of my annual giveaway of three photo greeting cards. It's a bit different from the years before since I didn't take that many pictures in 2020 - by far. Most of those pictures were taken with my phone. Although my phone has an excellent camera, my photography lacks my usual creativity that I most enjoy when going out with my DSLR. Nevertheless, there are a few favorite ones and in the end I had a hard time deciding which photos to include.
You will see 15 of my photos and I would like you to tell me in the comments which ones are you favorite three photos. Maybe you might like a photo so much that you want to give it all of your three votes - you can do that, too. You can divide your three votes however you like. All the photos have numbers, so just put in the numbers in the comments. By the end of the week I will see which three photos will have received the most votes. One of you - chosen randomly - will be the lucky winner to get those three photos as greeting cards. This giveaway is open worldwide, so don't hesitate if you live on the other side of the world.
1. Morning at the Lake
2. The Pacific Ocean
3. California Poppies
Thursday, January 14, 2021
What a start to the new year it has been! I'm still a bit shaken, shocked but not surprised. Unfortunately, my anxiety has flared up again after I was able to get it under control during the holidays.
Cooking has always calmed me. Cutting up vegetables, measuring out the spices, trying out new recipes, changing old dishes into smething new and exciting helps me to forget everything else for at least a short time. I usually listen to some music while cooking - sometimes it's soothing, calming music, sometimes it's fast and I want to dance - so I'm standing in front of my stove swinging my hips!
Autumn arrives rather late in my corner of the world and then lingers well into December. The food is changing from the rather light summer fare to heartier dishes.
One of the most wonderful things about fall is the abundance of vegetables available at the farmers market. One of the vendors offers an interesting variety of squash and zucchini, among them the Eight-ball zucchini, a small round zucchini that you can stuff with all kinds of wonderful food and flavor.
Every morning I get the morning briefing of the New York Times in my inbox and it always links to one recipe. Some of them I don't care for, but some I want to try out. We love brussels sprouts and when the NYT published a tasty sounding recipe I had to make it. It is easy to make, only has a few ingredients (I skipped the honey because I just don't like it), is wonderfully delicious and quickly became a favorite in our household.
Crisp gnocchi with brussels sprouts and brown butter
Of course Thanksgiving is in autumn. That was a different story this year. Not only was it the first Thanksgiving without our daughter, we also couldn't celebrate with our friends. Usually we go to a friend's house and celebrate with her and her huge family. This Thanksgiving was a lot quieter and since we don't really like turkey we skipped on that as well. I wasn't in the mood for cooking an elaborate meal anyway. Luckily, Trader Joe's saved the day with their tasty beef en croute and sweet potato gnocchi in sage butter. I just had to thaw the beef for 24 hours, throw it in the oven and make the gnocchi in the pan. Easy peasy - and surprisingly delicious. Beef it up (excuse the pun) with a bottle of really good red wine and you have a lovely Thanksgiving dinner.
There are a couple more pasta and meat dishes I at least want to mention here without getting into more detail:
Creamy spinach and mushroom tortellini with caramelized onions
Sausage and peppers pasta with broccoli
Loaded Italian sausage
Thursday, December 31, 2020
Only a few more hours and 2020 will be history. What a weird and strange year it has been. While this was not the worst year in my life - there were years far worse than this - it certainly was the most unique.
Much has been said about 2020 and I don't want to waste your time with repeating the same old sentiments about the virus and its consequences. The circus about the election still hasn't stopped. The life of too many people has been disrupted in a terrible way.
When I look back at the year I am surprised how quickly it passed, even though there were times when we thought nothing was moving. Despite stay-at-home orders and lockdowns I had more work than before. The new situation of teaching online had its fair share of challenges, but also many opportunities. While preparing classes was taking a lot longer, teaching was still a positive experience. It forced me to keep an open mind, to learn from my mistakes, to see what worked and what didn't and make amendments. It was interesting and exhausting at the same time. I was able to offer new classes which added to my work load, but boy! did I like it!
My Esty store also took off this year in a way I hadn't experienced before. While at the beginning of the year it was mainly Valentine's cards that I sold, customers were asking for hand knitted socks once the pandemic was under way. I knitted 68 pairs of socks for the store alone, plus some more for friends, famiy and myself. Add to this some hats, scarves, mittens and photo cards you can see that I was busy.
Since there was no way we could go anywhere I spent a lot of time in the garden whenever I could. I was digging and planting, changing the layout of the garden and enjoying the beauty surrounding me. That certainly kept me sane! Due to the unhealthy air for several weeks due to the multiple wildfires in our state and beyond, this time was cut short in the second half of summer, but by then the new school year had already started and I didn't have that much time for this kind of leisure anyway.
When I went to see Kaefer in Davis on Valentine's Day and we had a nice lunch on the patio of a restaurant, I had no idea that this was the last time I ate at a restaurant this year. After that it was me preparing meals every single day (sometimes, though, it was just a frozen pizza from Trader Joe's). I think we only picked up food from a restaurant two or three times. Since I had subscribed to the Morning Briefing of the New York Times which includes one recipe each day, I didn't run out of new and inspiring ideas. I tried many new dishes and some of them quickly became favorites.
Good thing that Kaefer had given me a fun apron! I wore it almost every day.
The big event in our family, of course, was Kaefer's graduation from the University of California, Davis. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Global Disease Biology which is a good foundation for her new undertaking, studying for her Masters in Epidemiology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. She left right after Labor Day - bittersweet for us and I sure miss her a lot.