In My Kitchen, August 2012

I’ve been an enthusiastic follower of the In My Kitchen series that Celia, over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial does for a while, so I thought I’d have a go. (My kitchen is outdoors, hence the lack of walls.)

This month in my kitchen there is:

A bottle of chili oil


This is an easy thing that I just learned how to do from the inimitable Fuchsia Dunlop’s cookbook, Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province. I’ve had the book for a while, but never tried this. When I found some chili peppers from last year in a paper bag, I knew it was time.

This is how you do it:


1 cup dried chili flakes, seeds and all (If you grind your own in a food processor, do it in the open air so you don’t breathe in the spicy dust!)

2 1/4 cups neutral oil (She uses peanut, but I can’t get that so I used canola, to good effect.)

1. Heat the oil to 350 F/177 C. (This cooks the oil, so it tastes better.)

2. Let the oil cool until it reaches 225-250 F/107-121 C (This is when having a candy thermometer is fun.)

3. Add the chili flakes and let it settle for a few hours. Then it is ready to go. It will take on a deadly red hue and be lovely and spicy. (I put a spoon in the jar, poured in the hot oil, and then added the chilis. I never removed the spoon again because it was so satisfying to always find it there when I need it. And I dip into my chili oil at every chance I get!)

There is a loose bundle of lemongrass knots:


Every year, our friends at Sundance Camp host an international juggling festival where they have stalls for people to sell things. Ali likes to make lavender bags, little muslin bags filled with lavender from our garden, to sell there. This year, we’ve got loads of lemongrass, and Ali just keeps planting more, so I have been tying blades of lemongrass into little bundles to sell as lemongrass tea. It’s a nice job for the heat of the day, and they are very handy — you just drop one in your cup and add hot water. A minute or two later, a lovely cup of tea is ready.

And there is a cup of flowers from the garden:


I spend most of my time tending the vegetables, but we do grow a lot of flowers as well. I never get around to cutting them, but my mother always does, and unlike me she can also arrange them nicely so that they look just right. She is leaving this Sunday for NYC, and I will miss having her here. Actually, we all will. She fits into our life here so easily, and while she is here it is hard to imagine how we managed. Luckily, she plans to be back soon, at the end of October. Thanks for all the help and support, mom! I hope you had as much fun being together as we did.

(Baki is licking brownie batter out of a pot back there. They were brown butter brownies, a recipe my mom found online at Bon Appetit. The brownies were very tasty, you might even say evil, and that recipe can be found here.)

And those are a few things in my kitchen. Thanks for joining me!

29 thoughts on “In My Kitchen, August 2012

  1. That lemon grass idea is fantastic, I grew some in a pot once as i had to bring them in each winter but in the end they died.. Love your outdoor kitchen, it sounds idyllic! c

    1. We lived in Nairobi for a spell, and my mother had great hedges of lemongrass in the garden. Imagine my disappointment when I tried my luck in wintery lands! It’s nice to be back in a place where it’ll grow properly.

  2. I love your outdoor kitchen too! How fabulous! The lemongrass knots are a great idea – if our lemongrass ever grows again, I’ll be sure to remember it. Your flowers are beautiful, and the chilli oil looks delicious but deadly – I make something similar, but don’t heat the oil, and keep the whole lot in the fridge. I find myself spooning it over everything! Thanks for sharing your kitchen with us!

    1. After all these months of peeking into yours, it was long overdue. It’s such a good idea to take stock once in a while- and isn’t it funny how there are so many stories tied up in little kitchen things?

  3. Celi’s right. An outdoor kitchen sounds so nice. I cannot think of anything more impractical in our climate but it sure would be nice to live in a place where an outdoor kitchen is possible. I’m not much of a tea drinker but that bouquet of your garden flowers is quite beautiful.

    1. I need to pull on some woollies before I head out to cook in the winter, but I find that in our mild weather, just working in the kitchen gets me warm enough in the end. So, are you more of a coffee drinker, then?

      1. Yes, though I’m in the process of cutting back. So, I don’t drink dairy, no tea, no soda, and soon no coffee. Thank goodness our water is clean. 🙂

  4. Love your post! Especially all the little people in the background.
    I love the lemongrass knots- I used to braid mine into wreaths and then cut them up small for potpourri when they were dried- but I like the knots better!
    I’m so glad you joined this month- it was a pleasure to see your kitchen!

    1. Well, we do seem to have attracted the attention of a colony of wasps who hover about when there’s meat to be had. Incense usually drives them away, though, and we retreat to the screened in porch to eat!

  5. I used to grow lemongrass and it became so prolific I just didn’t know what to do with it. If only I’d known you could turn it into wonderful ‘tea bags’. I didn’t know you have an outdoor kitchen xx

  6. My 2 clumps of lemongrass are growing huge, your post is so timely, I will be making lemongrass bundles to share with friends. How I would love to have an outdoor kitchen.

  7. Have to add how much I like the lemongrass bundles and am imagining how good they would be made into tea. I’ve grown it before, but like others have to bring it indoors, and frankly it seems to sulk, maybe I should give it another go !

    1. I think it’s always worth a try! We had some plants on our terrace in Istanbul that we used to bring in over the winter and they did alright. I’m pretty bad at keeping indoor plants, though.

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