Wooden Spoons

Wooden Spoons

Wooden spoons.

I think at last count I probably have about 30 of them.

Okay, maybe not 30. But, easily 20.

They’re one of those staples that I can’t imagine living without. I use them daily, and for a variety of tasks! They’re one of my favorite things, just like the white dishes.

The wooden spatula is probably my most favorite. My go-to when I’m sautéing veggies or whipping up a stir-fry. The flat edge is perfect for scraping up bits, and yet it doesn’t damage pan finishes.

Wooden Spatula

My other favorites are a recent acquisition. They belonged to my grandmother and came with the house we moved into this past June.

Wooden Spoon Ladle

These kitchen shovels aren’t just any wooden spoons.

They’re substantial.

They have a deep spoon pocket.

They’re not too heavy.

I love them.

Wooden Spoons Variety

But even though the specialty wooden spoons and spatulas totally make my day, I still adore the plain Jane wooden spoons. Even the smallest of the bunch.

Aromatic Oven Roasted Trout with Herb Butter

Good food is nothing short of art, and herbs and spices can add a burst of fantastic flavor to it, especially when they’re harvested from your own herb garden, so chemical- and preservative-free.  But there’s a standing belief that in order to grow your own herbs you have to have a plot of ground to grow them in, which simply isn’t true.  Herbs are hardy and adaptable plants that don’t require a huge amount of ground space in order to produce enough to be used, so I’d like to give you some solid suggestions about where to put them and start growing!

For the apartment dwellers

If you don’t have your own patch of ground to put them on, but you happen to be lucky enough to have a sunroom in your home, this is the perfect place to grow your own selection of herbs. The windows on these rooms bring in copious amounts of natural light, and will let you grow your own herbs and spices all the year round, safe from insect infestations and the moodiness of the weather!  Just imagine taking a sprig of fresh marjoram out of your own herb garden, and bringing its burst of flavor to your favorite dish.

Herbs

If you live in an apartment building, you can often take the planters and hang them from your windows, allowing you to grow a delicious selection of herbs and spices right outside your window.  You may only be able to grow a few select varieties in a window, but then again every window can serve as a potential herb garden!

Some apartments and condos will let you grow plants on your balcony.  Never underestimate just how much space is available here.  You can grow potted plants up against the sides of your balcony. With some growing in carefully secured pots on the railing, and some hanging plants, this doesn’t even have to take up all that much room.  In These ways, you can have an entire spice cabinet right outside the nearest window ready to bring your meals alive with flavor!

Herbs

Some neighborhoods also have growing co-ops, shared pieces of ground where people come together to grow their plants, and each member gets to harvest from the crops.  This will allow you a lot more ground, and also have more hands to make it light work.   Look into your local community and see if there are people coming together to work on a communal garden, and make new friends and swap recipes along the way!

If all of these options fail you, there is still one potential option open.  With an arrangement of full spectrum light bulbs, you can even grow plants in closets!  This tends to be a bit more of a financial investment, as the cost of running these bulbs can be prohibitive, but barring that, you may very well find yourself with a flourishing garden hidden in an unused closet or cupboard!

Whatever method you decide on, one thing is indisputable: fresh herbs and spices are the very heart of a meal that contains them, and the difference in flavor between these and the ones you buy dried and jarred in the store is unbelievable!

Make your dishes more nutritious and delicious with your own herbs!

Herb Stuffed Trout

That said, I would now like to share with you one of my favorite recipes, that would not be half as delicious without the freshly picked herbs that go into it. It is very little work, smells incredible, and is low in cholesterol and high in protein, to boot! Who could ask for more?

Aromatic Oven Roasted Trout with Herb Butter
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Make your dishes more nutritious and delicious with your own herbs!
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 trouts, cleaned and gutted
  • Sea salt, pepper
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons each fresh coarsely chopped thyme, sage and parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh coarsely chopped basil
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Sweet paprika
Instructions
  1. Rinse the fish, then rub salt, some basil and pepper well into each one, inside and out. Divide the remaining herbs evenly and stuff each fish with them. Cover pan or dish with foil wrap, and put in refrigerator for one hour.
  2. Put garlic though garlic press, then add to softened butter; combine well.
  3. Put a tablespoon of garlic butter inside each fish and drizzle fish with lemon juice, dust lightly with paprika if desired.
  4. Wrap each fish tightly in foil wrap and bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. If you like, you can tie the fish with a bit of string (not plastic, natural!) to keep them from coming open when you wrap them in foil.
  5. Unpack each fish carefully, serve with a slice of lemon, a baked potato and a simple cherry tomato salad.

Guest Post

Nicole Nowlen Guest PostNicole Nowlen: Full-time businesswoman. Full-time DIY enthusiast. Living in old London town, but with a burning desire to go everywhere and see everything!

Check Nicole out at: nicolenowlen.com or follow her on Twitter @nicolenowlen87.

White Dishes

You Should Own White Dishes

Let me start by saying this is not a sponsored post.

Now that we have that little detail out of the way, I’ll start with the whole point of this post: to kick-off sharing some of my favorite things in the kitchen, beyond the pantry. To go into detail about all the kitchen staples I love so much!

I thought I’d start with one of the most simple, yet terribly critical, items: WHITE DISHES.

Let’s be honest.

Did I always have white dishes? NO.

Did I always understand the aesthetic beauty of white dishes? NO.

Have white dishes fixed all the plating problems in the kitchen? Yes. NO.

When did white dishes become so important?

When I started this blog in 2010, I knew nothing about plating and shooting food photos – aside from the few years of photography classes in high school and college (with an old – but sturdy! – Pentax K1000).

It didn’t take long for me to realize the earthy gray-bluish plates we’d gotten for our wedding in 2002 were AWFUL in photos. And they didn’t do much for the food either.

IMG00084-20100926-1955

My PHOTOS WERE TERRIBLE – not the just fault of the plates.

Cape+May+2010+017

So, it was somewhat serendipitous when my co-workers gave me a holiday gift card to Williams-Sonoma in 2010. My first thought was, “How do I spend this?” Followed quickly by, “I NEED NEW PLATES!” You can read more about that here.

Related: Williams-Sonoma hides their “pantry” sets on the website, which are both AH-MAY-ZING and affordable.

For a food photographer (even an amateur like me), having really great accessories can make or break a photo. Some food bloggers pull out all the stops, with little original touches of delicate silverware, special linens, backdrops – you name it.

I love that. But that’s not me.

I’m simple. I don’t like to fuss around much, nor do I have the time for it.

Give me a white plate, some natural light, a terrific angle and I’m good to go.

And, because it deserves another shout-out: NATURAL LIGHT.

But you’re not a food blogger….

Okay, so you’re not a food blogger.

White plates are practical for EVERYONE. They make your food the highlight of the plate. It looks more appetizing. They go with any type of color scheme you have in mind for napkins, candles, tablecloths – whatever.

And they look so clean.

White Dishes

I love these dishes. So much so, I’m going to buy another set. And so should you!

Here are the details:

Williams-Sonoma Pantry Dinnerware

A superb value, our restaurant-quality porcelain dinnerware is sophisticated enough for entertaining yet sturdy enough for everyday dining. The clean, simple lines and pristine white color coordinate beautifully with other dinnerware and serveware, so you can use the pieces as part of a wide variety of inviting table settings. Made of high-fired porcelain for exceptional durability, they will provide years of memorable meals. Oven, microwave and dishwasher safe.

Williams-Sonoma Pantry Dinnerware

And, again – it’s not a sponsored post. I just REALLY love this dinnerware set!

Homemade Taco Seasoning

How to Make Homemade Taco Seasoning

Tacos are one of my go-to easy dinner ideas during the work week. Not only can they be thrown together in less than 30 minutes, the kids LOVE tacos and they’re easily built to each person’s specific and particular tastes:

  • Husband: meat, cheese, green onions, sriracha sauce
  • Nine-year-old: meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, refried beans, sour cream
  • Five-year-old: meat, “only a little” cheese, lettuce, tomato
  • Me: meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, green onions, avocado, refried beans, sour cream

For years I used a yellow taco seasoning packet. It’s what I grew up with, so that specific brand’s blend is super nostalgic.

But then I realized it’s just as easy to make a similar tasting taco seasoning at home … with spices and herbs I already had in my pantry. Love that.

The homemade taco seasoning blend I use is simple: chili powder, garlic salt, black pepper, paprika, cumin, dried parsley.

It takes all of 2 minutes to throw together.

And it tastes GOOD.

With no preservatives or unpronounceable ingredient words.

You might like this blend, or you might play around with other add-ins like red pepper flakes or dried onion. It’s flexible, which is terrific!

Next up: homemade refried beans. (With or without lard? That is the question.)

5.0 from 1 reviews
Homemade Taco Seasoning & Tacos
 
Prep time
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Why buy a packet when you can make homemade taco seasoning in just a minute or two? These tacos are SIMPLE and delicious.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • ⅔ cup water
Instructions
  1. Combine the chili powder, garlic salt, paprika, cumin, black pepper and parsley.
  2. Sprinkle the mix over your favorite taco meat while it's cooking. Once the meat has cooked through, add the water and bring the meat to a simmer, then cover the pan, reduce the heat and continue a low simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Serve the taco meat hot with crispy shells or soft tortillas. Seasons approximately one pound of meat.

 

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