Thursday, September 27, 2012

The List: 5 Appliances to Skip in a Small Kitchen

We live in 400 square feet, with one of the smallest kitchens I have ever seen.  This includes an under counter refrigerator, no dishwasher, and a very small counter.  Through a lot of creativity, the kitchen is not only usable, but enjoyable.  While there are some quirks that cannot be solved, many of the difficulties of living in a small space are easily avoided with some creativity. I found one of the biggest helps for this was getting rid of bulky appliances.

5 Appliances to Skip in a Small Kitchen

Why skip it?
  • While they are handy for your leftovers, they take up a lot of space.  
  • Most offices have one, so eat your leftovers at lunch.  
  • Switch over to glass containers for your leftovers, which can be microwaved at work and popped in the oven at home.  
  • You can also use a small non-stick skillet for quicker warming.
Toaster Oven
Why skip it?
  • Use the toaster, or the oven.  
  • To go farther: use the broiler for  your toast and skip the toaster as well.
Coffee Maker
Why skip it?
  • Use a small french press, or a pour over cone like this one (you can also get a much cheaper plastic one at most large stores).  
  • You will save a lot of counter space, and have better coffee.
Crock Pot/ Slow Cooker
Why skip it?
  • They are a storage nightmare.
  • A large soup pot can be stacked easily and is light enough to hang.  Another option is a dutch oven that can be stored in the oven.
Stand Mixer
Why skip it?
  • How often do you use it?
  • You can make almost anything with a hand mixer, which is much easier to store. 
  • I will admit, this one I could not part with.
What would you skip?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Potato Leek Soup

Weekend of Camping and Biking in Crested Butte
I am slightly obsessed with September and the beginning of fall.  The aspen trees are bright gold, the nights are cool enough to put away the fan, pie pumpkins have graced the shelf, and I don't overheat my house if I make soup.  Last year I acquired a beautiful copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I often use it as a reference for technique, but I rarely follow recipes, and this is no exception to the rule.  There is one recipe in the book that I can't tear myself away from: Potato Leek Soup.  The soup is velvety, light, and filling all at the same time.  The recipe is simple, but the soup is better than the sum of its parts.  I have made a few substitutions, but the overall recipe is Julia.  The butter at the end is genius, use olive oil to make this vegan.  Serve with crusty homemade bread.

Potato Leek Soup
Adapted from Julia Child
  • 1.5 pounds yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled and sliced or diced
  • 1.5 pounds leeks, chopped and including tender green
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock, homemade preferred, no sodium
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley

1. Add vegetables, stock and water to a large saucepan or stock pot and simmer partially covered for 40-50 minutes until potatoes are soft.*
Mt Crested Butte, from our campsite
2. Add salt and pepper after simmering has started and stir.
3. Using a hand blender, blend until smooth.  Alternatively you can just mash the vegetables with a fork.  Other alternatives include a food mill or traditional blender in batches.
4. Remove from heat and stir in the butter by spoonfuls.
5. Serve garnished with fresh parsley.

*Expect this to take ~25% longer at altitude.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Links: Fall Cocktails

Vanilla, Pear, Vodka
Photo Credit
In honor of the beautiful season that officially begins this weekend, today's links are focused on tasty fall cocktails. In addition to ridiculously good seasonal baked goods (like this pumpkin bread), there are some tasty libations that honor this season.  I hope you all get out and enjoy the weekend, see some colors, and make some tasty cocktails.  Happy Fall!

The Jack-O-Lantern: for the spooky whiskey lover.
Hot Spiced Wine: for brisk fall nights, an autumn sangria of sorts.
Vanilla, Pear and Vodka: for the feminine side.
Hot Apple Pie: for the sweet tooth.
Manhattan: for the traditionalist.
Aspen Fall Colors

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Foodie Guide to Cape Town and the Winelands

We finished our trip with 6 days in the Cape Town area.  We spent 2 nights in Franschhoek, and 4 nights in Camps Bay, a beachfront 10 minutes from downtown Cape Town.  We explored the town, saw the Cape of Good Hope, went penguin-watching, hiked Table Mountain and Lion's Head, wandered Kirstenbosh Botanical Gardens, ate tasty food, drank lots of wine, and enjoyed sundowners on the beach.
The food in Cape Town and wine country was such a pleasant change.  The winelands were originally colonized by the French, and the heritage shows in their food.  Now the areas of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are well known for their culinary inventiveness.  The food was a mix of French classic technique paired with local ingredients and an African flair.  Our best meal was at La Bon Vivant, a French bistro in Franschhoek. Following the guide are pictures of food, wine and adventures.  For more detail and more pictures, check out Mackenzie's accounts here.

And here is the guide of where we ate and drank and overall impressions, comment with any questions:

Cape Town:

La Boheme (Sea Point): Spanish inspired cuisine.  Excellent tapas. Great wine list. Atmosphere gets A++.
Bay Harbour Market (Hout Bay): An indoor market with live music, beer, wine, cider, and cheap eats.
Vovo Telo (V&A Waterfront, lunch): Rustic and tasty lunches, excellent coffee.
Anatoli (Da Waterkant): Turkish fare, including mezzes, mains, and desserts.  Best meal in Cape Town.
Primi Piatti (Camp's Bay): Inexpensive, tasty pizzas and pastas.

Cocktails and Appetizers
The Bungalow, formerly La Med (Clifton): Very hip vibe, decent (overpriced) sushi, fantastic views, great place for a sundowner drink.
Cafe Carpice (Camp's Bay): We had drinks and calamari. Overall: don't bother. Weak drinks, nice view (but The Bungalow is better), decent calamari.


Apprentice @ Institute of Culinary Arts (lunch): A variable menu with good options.  Well executed but lacking creativity.

Ken Forrester: Excellent value (11 wines on the full tasting menu for R50), best white wines.
Spier: Huge complex, commanding grounds, good wine but less value.
Jordan: Quieter setting, great views, good but not great wines.


The Common Room at Le Quartier Francais*: Small plates intended to be shared.  Very inconsistent quality throughout the menu.  Fun atmosphere.
Le Bon Vivant: Best meal of the trip. We had the restaurant to ourselves (thanks to it being winter). Excellent service and top quality food.
Pierneef at La Motte (lunch): Top quality food in a beautiful setting.  Exquisite presentation and excellent execution.  Close second to the meal at Le Bon Vivant.

Stony Brook Vineyards: Intimate experience at a small winery. Family run. Best red wine.
GlenWood: Off the beaten path, gorgeous views, wines were unremarkable.  Rumored to have excellent sushi.
La Motte: Excellent restaurant (see above), cozy tasting room, allowed to walk around the barrels, good wines.
L'ormains: Has a car museum also, beautiful setting on a horse farm, shuttle driver takes you to the tasting, unique grape varietals including an excellent Sangiovese.
La Provence: Modern tasting room, good selection of wines. Lack of variety on the tasting menu. No opportunity to taste any of the high-end wines.

*We intended to go to Ryan's Kitchen, but as we walked up at 7pm, they were closing due to lack of business.

Day 1: Cape Town, Cape Point & Cape of Good Hope
At Boulder's Beach

Camp's Bay and the 12 Apostles

Sunset at Camps Bay

Days 2 and 3: Stellenbosch and Franschhoek

Ken Forrester
View at Jordan
(Kenz pic)

La Motte

The Goose Cottage: Our Franschhoek Home
 And somehow Mackenzie got all the food pics, so here they are:  Franschhoek Food (Le Bon Vivant and La Motte Winery)

Day 4 back in Cape Town, for 1 more day with Matt and Mackenzie:

Lunch Pizzas at the V&A Waterfront

V&A Waterfront
Day 5: Kirstenbosch and Lion's Head
Kirstenbosh Botanical Gardens

Camp's Bay from the trail on Lion's Head
Top of Lion's Head with Table Mountain in the Background
Trail on Lion's Head
Table Mountain and Lion's Head from Signal Hill
Day 6: Table Mountain
"True Summit" of Table Mountain, McClure Beacon
Boardwalk on Table Mountain
On the edge

Headed back down the trail