In My Kitchen – August 2017

And so another month has whizzed on by!  It was a month full of swim practices, swim meets and finally some time away from home.  The boys and I had a road trip up to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and enjoyed ourselves.  Yes, I survived driving them all by myself!

Between our travels and my parent’s 4+ week road trip I have a lovely collection of goodies from all over the States (and Canada)  for this month’s post.

First let’s begin with items my fantastic mom found for me.  They spent over four weeks driving across the country.  The highlight was of course visiting my brother in Seattle.  From their stop in New Mexico we got these lovely goodies.


Josh and I are big salsa fans so we can’t wait to open these.


Mom knows I have a thing for handmade pottery and this is a beauty.

They also stopped in Medicine Hat, Alberta (Canada) and did a little shopping…


Flavored balsamic vinegars are always tasty on salads, especially summer salads with fresh fruit.  The harissa olive oil with be delicious as well, not sure yet how I’ll test it our for the initial taste testing.

Now we have everything from my trip.  The boys and I drove up to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where I grew up.  We stayed with my mom’s best friend, a second mom to me.  Dear sweet Emmie M (as the boys call her) was a superb hostess.  I had this lovely tea towel waiting for me on my bed up arrival.  She also gave me some stainless steel ice cubes, we can’t have  cocktails getting watered down!


There is now a Trader Joe’s just three blocks from where my house was.  Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have one so close to home now.


Anyway, we discovered these bags there and Emmie M got me one.  How is it we don’t have a South Carolina bag in our stores??  I’ll check again next time I’m there.  Even the bottom and sides of the bag are cute.

I didn’t know Trader Joe’s sold liquor!!!  Here in South Carolina we have some crazy old alcohol laws limiting how things are sold which means no liquor in grocery stores.  I was so excited to see it in a Milwaukee Trader Joe’s  I may have danced in the aisle.


I managed to control myself and only get three bottles.  First a TJs brand vodka distilled from grapes.  We opened a bottle while there and it was pretty good, a nice option for gluten free.  I couldn’t resist a Wisconsin vodka either.  And the cashier twisted my arm and said the tequila was pretty good too!

One morning the boys and I went to Sprecher Brewery.  Back when I lived in Milwaukee they only had root beer and cream soda, or so I remember anyway.  They now have many delicious craft sodas.  While we were in the gift shop the lovely clerk took the boys to the back for some soda tasting so I had a few minutes to browse by myself!


There are multiples of some of these sodas, especially the lo cal root beer.  There was also a strawberry soda, but the boys drank that our first night home!


I’m thinking cocktails for these delicious sodas….


They also brew beer now too so of course I had to get some for Josh.


The boys just had to have this root beer popcorn too!!

Also in the village I grew up in is a Penzey’s Spices store.  I “had” to go there since my mom gave me a shopping list for her and of course I can always browse a spice store, it’s so much better than ordering from a catalog.


I can always use good cinnamon and we were hot of a spicy Hungarian paprika.  The mural of flavor seasoning was a free gift with purchase and I’m sure we’ll enjoy using that too.

As with any travels I love to go to grocery stores.  Emmie M took us to a fantastic two story grocery story in a neighboring village.  The boys and I were so excited, it was such fun.  The first floor is mainly prepared foods, just about anything you can imagine.  They also had a huge cheese and seafood selection.  Then upstairs was more like a regular grocery store with everyday items and also local items.  I spied a brand I recognized and discovered this store was owned by Kroger.


This was a product I haven’t seen in my Kroger or any other grocery store so I had to grab it.  We love pickled okra and can’t wait to try it with smoked paprika for carpet picnic Friday night.

We also went to a kitchen supply store, geared mainly for restaurants and larger establishments but still open to the public.  I really controlled myself, I could have done so much damage there!


I came away with only some muffin/cupcake wrapper and unbleached cheesecloth!

After all our wicked indulgences of burgers, onion rings, frozen custard, kringle and more it is time to get back to “normal”.  The arrival of this cookbook when we got home was perfect.


Six Season by Joshua McFadden is full of so many delicious vegetable heavy recipes.  They aren’t all vegetarian, just focusing on eating vegetables in season and flavoring them to taste their best.  I’ve already made two fantastic recipes this week and look forward to more this month for our cookbook club.

Check out the links to all the other lovely people posting what’s in their kitchens across the globe this month.  Thanks as always to our gracious host Sherry from Sherry’s Pickings.

Sherrys Pickings

22 thoughts on “In My Kitchen – August 2017

  1. sherry MacKay

    thanks Gretchen for the mention:) (I appreciate the use of the badge too.) Lots of lovely things in your kitchen at the moment. Yes there is nothing more enticing than a spice store or a deli filled with delicious and unusual products. I have discovered a bulk store near our place which i am going to head into on the weekend. You may not call them bulk stores…you know, the ones with big baskets and tubs of food and spices that you can pick a quantity out of. can’t wait. love the tea towel and yay to the vodka! that pottery plate/bowl is beautiful too. i have quite the collection myself. thanks for joining in and see you next month. cheers x

    1. Gretchen Post author

      Thanks Sherry. The vodka went well with the lychee craft soda. I haven’t come across a bulk spice store yet, that would be quite dangerous for me!

  2. Debra Nancy Photography

    A fantastic collection of goodies! I too love salsa and hope you enjoy it. I am always looking for bowls, small plates and tea pots so I completely understand how you could have done damage in the restaurant supply store. Very nicely photographed! Thanks for sharing …

  3. Kim Bultman

    Gretchen, it amused me that your travel adventures included trips to grocery and restaurant supply stores. Your family knows you well! (Me, too; I could wander around them for hours.) Looks like you found some great finds! I especially loved your flavored white Balsamic vinegar and rootbeer float popcorn (WHAT?!) — the “smokra”, too. (LOVE pickled okra.) Fun post!

    1. Gretchen Post author

      The smoked paprika pickled okra is really delicious! Love pickled okra on our cheese boards and t was nice for a new twist on it. If I didn’t have the kids with me I definitely could spend more time in grocery stores.

  4. tiffinbitesized

    What. A. Bounty. I’m surprised you could fit the boys in the car on the way back! I’ve seen ‘whisky stones’ but haven’t seek the steel version. I know what you mean about supermarkets selling liquor – it’s the same here in Queensland. In other states it’s in-store but in Qld you need to go to a separate bottle shop. Enjoy those goodies and the rest of the long summer.

    1. Gretchen Post author

      Luckily I didn’t buy more. The car wasn’t full or anything but we spent the night in Chicago on the way home which meant having to empty the entire car. Couldn’t risk theft so it all had to go in the hotel. We made it in two trips, I don’t think the boys could have handled any more!

  5. Shaheen

    What a fantastic blog post, so many good things. But I am excited about the smoked okra, that is new to me and I’d def. eat it. The Root beer Float Popcorn – wow, a flavour i never knew existed, i do now. And the salsas – Yum. Also I will have to have a look at that cookbook if and when I see it in a bookshop, Thanks for sharing.

    1. Gretchen Post author

      I am loving the Six Season cookbook. There are so many new flavor combinations. The boys still haven’t tried the root beer float popcorn, guess I should give it to them soon. The smoked paprika pickled okra is great!

  6. Aida

    Hi Gretchen, love your post that diaries places visited across the States. Like you, I enjoy going to grocery stores.whenever I travel. Haven’t tasted white balsamic vinegar before.I reckon the olive oil simply beautiful on pasta or seafood with hint of harissa. And who would though root beer float popcorn exist?

    1. Gretchen Post author

      The stainless ice cubes leave no flavor at all. They work quite well, I was a little surprised. The lychee craft soda went quite well with the vodka!


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