Cornered

Cornered

The junction of two walls can get old in a hurry.

I know this because I spent much of my childhood sequestered in a little wooden rocking chair — a miniature of the ones you see scattered across front porches in the South — facing the corner for being “naughty.” Although I don’t recall specific infractions that led to my frequent incarceration (or if it was simply a means to keep a curious and evidently willful child out of Mom’s hair — I believe the current vernacular and behavior modification technique is called a “time out”), the experience was made mercifully less lonely with books.

With a Little Golden book in my hands, solitary confinement wasn’t too bad. It occupied my mind, passed the time, and fostered my love of reading. It also catapulted my imagination to places much more interesting and entertaining.

I’m resolved never to face a boring corner again!

Recently I decided to spruce up a few ho-hum corners in our home with some thrift store finds for visual interest. Books find their way into my corners, too — beloved companions during solitary stretches, albeit self-imposed this time.

And speaking of resolve… mid-January the time of year when many New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside, which is why I gave them up a long time ago. How are yours coming along? If you’re still on course, good for you. If not…

Don’t get stuck in a corner!

Life (and corners) can be as perfunctory — or playful — as you want them to be. Feel free to rearrange.

Enjoying colorful corners in 2016,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ January 2016

Tea kettle

In My Kitchen… is the cutest lil’ tea kettle. (Makes me happy just looking at it!)

Normally I’m a coffee drinker, but I just can’t do java like I used to past 2:00 p.m. (or a.m.) and believe me, I’ve tried. This recent acquisition was prompted by a boatload of tea (a Christmas gift from a musical friend — thank you, Karen, xo) which I’ve been enjoying ever since…. especially since I got this.

Boiling water “ala saucepan” is no trouble (really), but tea-making and drinking just aren’t the same without a tea kettle. (Plus, I’ve missed “the whistle”… anybody?)

Stash of Tea

In My Kitchen… is an assortment of Stash Tea.

Simply wonderful flavorsherbal, caffeine-free, and/or otherwise — and great for mid-afternoon (or midnight) lulls. Ebeneezer Scrooge wasn’t the only one who suffered from whenever awakenings… but thankfully mine come without ghosts.

Nurture your creative “Spirit” — past, present, or future (or middle of the night) — and Happy 2016 everybody, xo!

Red platter with chocolates

In My Kitchen… is this cranberry-colored platter.

Most of my serving dishes are “basic” white, but every now and then a girl’s gotta play. As for the chocolates, they’re part of a future post (provided I don’t eat the evidence before then, ha!)

Good things come to those who wait, including cranberry-colored platters.

Cooling racks

In My Kitchen… are THREE professional grade cooling racks, woohoo! (Apologies… only two fit in the photo.)

I’ve been using one discount store cooling rack for over a year, juggling TMOFW’s baked goodies (and sometimes having to pry them from the aforementioned), but now I’m thrilled to be able to give his oven treats (and moi) a lil’ SPACE between batches. Repeat after me: NO stress ‘In My Kitchen’… NO stress ‘In My Kitchen’!

Sometimes even the most mundane item can be taken for granted, but please do me a favor and take a quick inventory — then thank God — and hug yourself  for every amenable blessing. Make it a point to INVEST in your cooking efforts in 2016 if you haven’t already — totally worth it — and YOU. (Get what you NEED!)

Red or Green Chili Cookbook

In My Kitchen… is yet another cookbook “gift.” (Thanks, Linda, xo!)

I LOVE spicy food (or perhaps the more apt term is HOT food?!) and I learned loads about what to look for in peppers, how to handle/prep/cook ’em, etc., from this gem of a cookbook. (Fantastic recipes as well!)

Remind me to head for New Mexico again soon, too… I love the landscape there.

In My Kitchen… is/was tangible evidence of the first time I could play “IMK” since the 1st of December (musical obligations, ‘n’ all)prompted by my friend Ally — plus a lil’ reciprocal lovin’ from TMOFW.

Gotta love friends and loved ones who cheer you on!

I don’t know who was more tickled… me with two dozen of each (red and yellow), or my hubby over Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes. Somehow I think it was a win/win situation!

Pen holders

In My Kitchen… (and probably totally inconsequential, but it’s part of “who I am”) are these recently discovered/acquired pen holders.

I can never have enough pens (let alone storage for ’em) and these tickled my soul!

In the foreground is a “handmade in Greece with 24 karat gold etchings vessel” (purchased at our church thrift store for a dime — I love that place!) The other is an obscure (unknown origin) jade green pottery/pattern/piece reminiscent of ancient China. (Don’t care if its “authentic” or not — loved the shape and color — $2 at a local antique shop!) The better to write to you, my dears.

Forget Me Not Dove

Last, but not least, In My Kitchen… is my wish for you for the New Year: PEACE!

The dove (above) arrived in the mail with Christmas greetings infused with Forget Me Not seeds to replant later — an unexpected gift from Carol, a Pampered Chef consultant whom I’ve only “met” online (like many of you) who’s been instrumental and entirely helpful in re-stocking my my kitchen during the past year. (Again, like many of YOU!)  How nice, xo.

I feel so blessed… hopeful… thankful… and peaceful as we start 2016. Things are finally starting to look, feel, and COOK “normal” around here. (Yay!) Thanks, too, to Fiona (Tiffin) for the 2016 IMK calendar (LOVED IT!) and to Celia for the gorgeous Swarovski “angel” bookmark. (DITTO.) Hugs back!

This month’s In My Kitchen adventures are brought to you by Maureen at The Orgasmic Chef (same great fun, new hostess), with many thanks to Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for getting the proverbial ball rolling (and to Maureen for stepping up to the PLATE, literally.) Thanks, ALL … and Happy New Year!!!

Enjoying worldwide blessings and IMK always,

~ Kim

2015 in review

This past year has been pretty “hit or miss” on this forum — mostly due to re-evaluating my priorities, dealing with “what is” (or was), and re-grouping as a result. (Gotta love LIFE!) Press on…

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. Thank you, “helper monkeys”… even though I envision (quirky as I am) the infamous Wicked Witch of the West’s troops swooping off to capture Dorothy et al in the Wizard of Oz, lol! Sometimes “help” comes in the least likely forms.

However, I’m delighted to know that the majority of my notoriety came from Down Under (LOVED your comparison to the Sydney Opera House… here’s to a “sold out” crowd in 2015), but I also have heart-felt appreciation for everyone (from everywhere!) who took time to notice, read, and comment on this space.

I’m doin’ the best I can and I know (and love) that y’all are, too. Again, thanks! Okay, on to the rest of WP’s “report.” (Buying time until my “next” post, LOL!)

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Miniature Dole Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

Find Your Adventure

The theme for the upcoming 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA (January 1st, 8:00 a.m.) is “Find Your Adventure.” As you know, this past year has been one — and then some — especially with the torrential rains in Oklahoma. I’d planned to photograph these mini-yellow & red beauties with a yellow & red rose bouquet in the background (a gift from my hubby for Christmas and perfect for the Rose Parade) but the light was fading fast. Always an adventure!

However, the Miniature Dole Pineapple Upside Down Cakes turned out grand! Who doesn’t love a parade — and Pineapple Upside Down Cake in ‘mini’ form?

Enter Ally Phillips (http://allyskitchen.com/), winner of the 2013 Dole California Cook-Off and Dole Packaged Food’s first-ever Social Media Ambassador (and instigator of “individual sized” Pineapple Upside Down Cakes!) I’ve made many a Pineapple Upside Down Cake in my day, but never “miniaturized.” It was SO fun, I even made “Mini Mini’s!”

Not only will Ally be supplying her colorful “live” observations (on Social Media) during the Tournament of Roses Parade, she’ll also be cooking up a creative storm at DPF’s “Live on Green” prior to the much-anticipated annual festivity. Tune in as Ally prepares these and other DPF inspired recipes, including refreshing smoothies, a zesty hummus dip, Ricotta Dumplings with Dole Raspberry Sauce, and even an inspired Bellini recipe! (Hey, it’s New Year’s after all.) All of ’em were tested, ENJOYED, and received rave reviews by some of food blog world’s finest cooks. (There’ll be links!)

Dole Packaged Foods graciously expanded their annual presence in this year’s 127th Tournament of Roses Parade by including a FREE three-day family friendly event at the Pasadena Convention Center to promote good eatin’… aptly demonstrated by Ally and more. “Live on Green” will take place on December 29th & 30th (9 a.m. to 8 p.m.), and December 31 (9:00 a.m. to 3 p.m.) with activities centered around the National Park Service’s Centennial Celebration. (100 years, woohoo — way to go!) There’ll be places where children can romp and play at the Scholarshare Toddler Play Area, a Family Fun Zone, and live performances throughout the event, including singalongs. (Y’all know music is a balm to my soul.)

PLEASE be sure to watch for DPF’s float during the Tournament of Roses parade on January 1st, too… an incredible construction entitled “Soaring Over Paradise” complete with a zip-line, waterfalls, and gorgeous fresh flowers! Dole does its best to bring you their BEST, and I’m so honored to participate in this “virtually” with my fellow foodies. Good will and GOOD FOOD abounds at the 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade.

Quick update:

Here are my roses minus the mini’s… my hubby took ’em to work to share!

Tournament of Roses bouquet

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Minis (and “Mini” Mini’s!)

2 (20 oz.) cans DOLE pineapple slices, well drained

1/3 cup butter, melted

2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 pkg. yellow cake mix

Maraschino cherries, drained and halved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (or 325 degrees F if using dark or non-stick muffin tins.)

Prepare cake mix as directed, substituting drained pineapple juice for the water.

Mix together melted butter and brown sugar until combined.

Spray muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.

Equally divide butter/brown sugar mixture between muffin tins — 18 total. (See below for additional measurements and/or adaptations.)

Press 1 pineapple slice into brown sugar mixture in each muffin cup.

Add 1 cherry-half in the center of the pineapple ring (sliced side up.)

Pour in about 1/3 cup prepared cake batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of muffins comes out ‘clean.’

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

Loosen edges of muffins (use a  butter knife or similar) and invert onto a cooling rack over a half-sheet baking pan, then cool completely.

NOTE: Use at least a 2/3 cup size each muffin tin or it won’t be large enough to hold pineapple slice and batter.

FYI, I used a “jumbo” (popover-sized) muffin tin to make these. (I also experimented with larger ramekins, but they were almost too big!) As for the mini-Mini’s… I put 1/2 tsp. brown sugar/butter mixture into each “mini-muffin-cup”, added a maraschino cherry half first, then topped it with 1/2 tsp. of well-drained DOLE crushed pineapple, and approximately 1/2 Tbsp. cake batter on top. (Eyeball ’em til they’re 2/3 full.)

Bake as directed, adjusting the time to accommodate more or less cake batter. For me, the mini-mini’s baked up “just right” in about 11 minutes… test with a toothpick to be sure. (And don’t neglect that 5-minute cooling-time advice — worked slick in every size.)

A hearty thank you to Dole Packaged Foods for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own, but I simply have to add that my hubby just ate two of those “mini’s” and asked if he could have more. YOU BETCHA! Happy, HAPPY New Year everybody — go, have FUN — and “Find Your Adventure!

Enjoying being adventurous,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ December 2015

It's A Wonderful Life

In My Kitchen… it’s time to CELEBRATE!

This was our Thanksgiving dinner “for two” — lemon & herb roast turkey breast, smoked ham slices, and his ‘n’ hers dressing. His was “Stove Top” — by request — but I always throw in sautéed onions, celery, and homemade stock. (What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him!) Mine was homemade with gluten-free croutons, the aforementioned additions, “Craisins” and pecans. The Man Of Few Words isn’t real wild about cranberries, but I simply must include a few in “my” holiday menu.

I also dolled up some sides (can’t help myself!) — mashed Yukon gold potatoes with cream gravy, sweet potatoes laced with maple syrup, and pumpkin pie topped with whipped white chocolate ganache and orange-glazed pecans. I love combining flavors! I’m also looking forward to “thinking up” something special for Christmas dinner.

In My Kitchen… things are crystal clear. (Most days, ha!)

My sweet friend, Marla, gave me this set of faceted glassware (originally from Canada) and I feel compelled to bless others with her gift of graciousness.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your thoughtfulness, Marla, xo.

In My Kitchen… is an assortment of table linens — from practical to whimsical to sentimental — courtesy of my lovely friend, Ally.

Life (and dinner) are SO much more fun with this colorful selection to PLAY with. :)

They were tucked between another “Ally gift”… a 48-pound box full of cookbooks!

Cookbooks

In My Kitchen… are dinner ideas for days and months to come!

(Truthfully, there were so many cookbooks they didn’t all fit in the picture.)

Thank you very much, my friend, xo. This gift will last all year, and then some.

Coffee Trivet

In My Kitchen… there’s always coffee. (And recently, a coffee-inspired trivet.)

It adds a lil’ pizzazz to our coffee counter, don’t you think?

Whether you’re a java junkie or tea aficionado, a “cuppa” offered with a smile is the perfect warm welcome for impromptu celebrations.

Pecans & Pasta

In My Kitchen… (in the background of the previous photo)  are white chocolate chip pecan cookies — made with Oklahoma-grown pecans.

The cookies are long gone, but I don’t think I’ll run out of pecans any time soon…

I brought home five pounds. (Let the holiday baking begin!)

Stockpot

In My Kitchen… is an 11-quart stockpot. (Yay!)

I’ve been making do with a 6-quart, but it just wasn’t “roomy” enough. This one is suitable for stewing a whole chicken or mega-batches of veggie broth — and, its arrival was most timely — it’s getting chilly here!

Come to think of it, a good-sized batch of chili would simmer nicely in it, too.

Potato Salad in the making

In My Kitchen… (in the aforementioned 6-quart stockpot) some spuds are simmering for another batch of potato salad.

Although potato salad is considered a “summer” food here, TMOFW loves it year-round. (Me, too!)

Potato salad = PARTY!

Recipe Box 2

Last, but not least, In My Kitchen… is a “recipe box” … of sorts!

I was looking for something to house my printed-off recipes and this was the perfect size for file folders — plus, the beautiful carving and patina caught my eye — yes, another thrift store find. Do you have a recipe box? (Or remember writing recipe cards?) Whether you use old-fashioned means or the latest technology, cooking for your loved ones (or YOU) is cause to celebrate!

Please pop in and visit other kitchens around the world (or add your own festivity by the 10th) at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, hostessed by the ever-welcoming Celia.

Enjoying hearth and home… and holiday dinners,

~ Kim

P.S. The next two weeks are “musically crazy” for moi… 3+ evening rehearsals, dress rehearsal, the performance, and a side gig. If  I don’t respond immediately (or in a timely fashion) I WILL get back to you after that! Thanks ever so much for visiting my kitchen… I’m looking forward to visiting yours. Happy Holidays!

Thankful Thoughts

Autumn at the Lake

Perhaps this year (more than most) I have umpteen reasons to be thankful.

Oodles of ’em. Blessings beyond measure!

First and foremost is my health.

When you can’t move the left side of your body (or play piano or type with both hands or walk without dragging one leg) it gives you pause. A loooooong pause. Thanks to a lil’ (a LOT?!) of Divine intervention, I count myself among the miraculously restored.

Then, just when you thought everything that was important in your life (aka the “things” you thought somehow defined you) disappeared in a matter of hours, you begin to assess what’s really important to you. I’m talking’ about memories.

(I’m telling you, it’s memories!)

Make and/or create as many as you can — while you still can — for yourself, your family, and your friends. When it comes down to it, you can’t take it with you — but you can leave a lot behind.

Comfortable seating also helps…

Comfy chairs

After almost a year of parking my tookus on a lawn chair (and squirming midway through a movie) I begin to realize how many folks have less… much less… and my gratitude meter spiked a bazillion notches.

It also made me more discerning about what I really need (or that “w” word… want…) besides the clothes on my back. The day our recliners arrived I nearly did cartwheels in our living room — ever mindful and grateful to HAVE a living room — but I didn’t want to overexert myself.

Sometimes a nap is in order.

A place to rest

This Comfort Zone (since relocated to an adjacent corner) was courtesy of my late sister. I’m ever mindful of and thankful and grateful for it, because I’ll never forget her contribution to MY life (refer to memories above) and it feels like a HUG every time I crawl underneath the covers… ahhhhh. Again, make some memories… you never know who (or when) you’ll touch someone because of it.

Then there’s the “personalization” aspect.

Everybody has their own idea of what rocks their world, hoohah! For me, it’s vibrant colors tempered by neutrals…. a visual shock with a side of sedate. :) While I’m not completely sold on the hue yet, it’s coming along… and it may end up more “paprika” by the time I’m done… this was the first coat.

Accent wall

Since I brought up the topic of RED, I might as well show you my Thanksgiving pumpkin pie early. It’s TMOFW’s favorite pie, and there’s no reason to wait (and/or stress) until Thanksgiving morning to jockey oven space. Plus, I made it the “old fashioned way” with this red-handled egg beater — a  gift from my sweet friend Jurine, xo.

Yup, the manual kind.

Totally less ‘spatters’ that way! Plus, my man is enjoying his “just desserts” a few days in advance — whatever it takes to rock HIS world — and, I don’t have to clean pumpkin pie batter off of every counter top and appliance within a four-foot radius. (Can you relate?!) FYI, I might not be as ambitious about the whipped cream on Thursday… just sayin’.

Pumpkin Pie the old fashioned way

Last, but not least, I’d like to leave you with something unexpected cuz that’s how life has turned out for me. Sometimes a wander through the neighborhood produces a totally unanticipated delight — and something as simple as a late-season dandelion perking up its rowdy head makes me smile. (Remind me to do that more often.)

All of which leaves me counting my blessings and giving heartfelt thanks — for it, and for you.

Isn’t that what “Thanksgiving” is all about?

Autumn Surprise

Here’s one last Autumn look at the lake. It’s been GORGEOUS and I’m grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

I appreciate YOU and your contributions to my memories more than I can adequately express. I love you all!

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Enjoying untold blessings — savoring each & every one,

~ Kim

Evidence That I Still Cook (and Hugs to Paris)

In the wake of hearts grieving around the world, I have no words — only pictures to prove that I still cook. Sometimes the kitchen is the best place to be to care for loved ones (and yourself), and a satisfying meal at the end of the day — lovingly prepared and shared, is what it’s all about — whether it appears online or not.

During the past year I’ve come to understand life’s disruptions (although certainly not to that extent) and how much “living life” in the present with precious loved ones precludes posting.

If you’re interested in a particular recipe, please ask. (Hover over the photos for descriptions.) Thanks, xo

Praying for Paris,

~ Kim