Friday, August 30, 2013

A Couple of Cute Things from Mignon Kitchen Co.

One of my favorite blogs is Elephantine. Author Rachel Ball of Seattle also runs an Etsy shop called Elephantine Jewelry featuring her own handmade pieces, and Mignon Kitchen Coan online specialty food/kitchen shop. 

I recently purchased from Mignon a couple of cute items: a set of four silkscreened felt coasters by Cotton & Flax, and a set of four stainless steel straws. We make smoothies a lot for breakfast and I like to drink them using a straw, but I don't like adding more plastic to the landfill. These metal straws are reusable, and they're dishwasher safe, too. 

The coasters, which are made by hand, come in three cute patterns and colors.  I had a hard time choosing one! 

Be sure to visit Rachel's blog and online shops -- you'll be in for a real treat.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Good Way to End the Weekend

This past weekend we had beautiful weather -- cooler, dry and breezy. On Sunday evening, I made salsa fresca using cilantro from the "garden" (it's actually growing in a pot on the front porch, away from the slugs that were devouring it earlier in the summer). Winding down the weekend with a margarita, some chips and homemade salsa and listening to my guy play guitar ... I can't think of a better way to end the weekend.

Salsa Fresca

Roughly chop two medium-sized ripe tomatoes (about 1-1/2 cups). Combine with 2/3 cup onion (white or yellow), diced small; 1 small jalapeno, minced; 1 garlic clove, minced; and 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice. Season with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper and stir to combine. Let sit about 15 minutes. Just before serving, stir in 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped.

I'm not ready to say good-bye to summer, are you?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Green Bean, Tomato, Olive and Egg Salad

One evening a couple of months ago I made this simple salad as a light supper. It was delicious. Garden-fresh green beans and grape tomatoes pair with Kalamata olives and hard-boiled eggs to make a healthy, easy meal or a side dish that would go nicely with fish or chicken.

Green Bean, Tomato, Olive and Egg Salad

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook 1 pound green beans, trimmed and halved, until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Place beans in a bowl and add 1 cup each grape tomatoes, halved, and pitted Kalamata olives, halved, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar and 2 hard-cooked eggs, quartered or chopped. Season with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Kitchen Drawer

I realize this post may be a little boring, but perhaps some of you who are into organization will be inspired to choose an area in your home, large or small, to organize.

Early Saturday morning I opened this kitchen drawer to put something away and it hit me: this drawer desperately needed to be organized and cleaned. I took everything out, threw away what was taking up space and not being used (blue handled plastic spatulas from the 70s? Yikes!), and wiped it clean. Then I reorganized based on what I use most. 

My favorite All-Clad measuring cups -- one standard-measure and one odd-measure -- moved to the front of the drawer. I have two extra sets of white plastic measuring cups that I moved to the back (when I cook, I use a lot of measuring cups!). In the very front of the drawer, which you can't see in this photo, are flat-sided wooden chopsticks I use to level flour, sugar and spices when baking. They are some of my favorite tools!

On the left are the spatulas. My husband gave me the extra long one in my favorite color, orange. It's great for scraping down the bowl of my Kitchen Aid mixer. Next to the spatulas are a small strainer (also great for dusting powdered sugar over baked goods) and a Microplane fine grater, which I love and use frequently.

The metal basket corrals smaller items such as tea infusers, small silicone spatulas, a citrus zester, offset spatula, two small whisks, ice tongs and a Tovolo silicone basting brush. I love its stainless steel handle and it comes apart for easy and thorough cleaning.  In fact, one of the things I threw away was a yucky old natural-bristled basting brush, the kind that never gets clean. Eeew. 

In the very back of the basket, not seen in the photo, is a container with small, loose items like corn cob holders, plastic bottle spout tops and a cherry pitting tool. To the right of the basket are chopsticks used for eating, primarily by my husband who loves using them.

It feels great to have this frequently-used drawer pared down to just the items I need regularly, with everything clean and tidy. For now, at least.

What have you organized lately?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

In the Garden

While I was home for lunch yesterday, I snapped some photos in the garden. The zinnias are prolific this year, and butterflies, bees and goldfinches are frequent visitors. Zinnias aren't my favorite flower, but I love how much wildlife they attract, especially the goldfinches, who feast on the flowers' seeds and petals. They are spectacular birds!

The apricot-colored dahlias are growing like crazy. I have been disappointed though that they wilt only a day or two after being cut. I don't recall them fading so quickly in previous years. Even so, they're lovely to have in the house.

Look how tall this plant has grown. It looks to be twice the height of the 4-foot fence next to it. Thanks to some effective staking by my hubby, it's standing nice and upright.

Here's a new bench for the side entry that I purchased earlier this summer at Plow & Hearth. Ella the beagle likes to lay under it for the shade it provides. Even Henry has curled up under it for some relief when he gets too hot. I like to sit here at lunch to soak up a few minutes of sun and visit with the pups before heading back to work.

What's new in your garden?

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