The Lyrical Life

Lyrical

lyr-ical\’lirikel\adj 1: suitable for singing; melodic; 2: expressing direct and usually intense personal emotion. (Hello!)

Once upon a time this chair (one of four) appeared to me  — part providence, part convenient parking space — singing a seductive siren song outside of a local thrift shop. I couldn’t resist its/their curbside appeal… charm… sultry lure. Plus, God blessed me unexpectedly with a bit o’haggling money, thank You very much! I enjoyed them immensely as long as I was allowed to have them, like so many other things in life — children… siblings… people… and recent home.

Whether you believe in Providence or not, spontaneous delights that show up on your doorstep (or end up in your trunk) are proof of “something more.”

These chairs are now a transient memory (life happens), but as past photos recall, their elegance and significance to me (not to mention how much they haunt me in their absence) linger on. It’s okay… I’m okay… recognizing that some things are harder to get over than others, even when they’re just “things.” (I’m soooo not a “thing” person, but, for one brief decade this chair — and it’s identical companions — graced my life and represented my soul, and I loved them for it.) However, I’m not defined by them… rather, I’m clarified (and enhanced) by sharing them with you. xo

A quick “aside”… most of my life there was a song in my heart that wasn’t heard. It was disconcerting (not to mention discouraging) when the folks I expected to be listening weren’t. Perhaps they weren’t able to for whatever reason. (Compassion reigns rampant these days and I’ve become less conscious about why re: reasons — I have so many of my own! — plus, I’m more forgiving with age. thanks to Divine Wisdom and hindsight.)

Thankfully, there were a few exceptions along the way. My piano teacher listened to (and understood) my ‘song’… my sister and brother (rest in peace) knew it… my two children still connect with it. Forty-odd years later, The Man Of Few Words tunes into my ‘frequency’ and hears it — and believes in it! Yay for life’s ‘listeners’ and ‘believers’ — especially when we’re incapable of hearing or believing in it ourselves.

There were other hints of my song, too — my personal ‘melody’ — that showed up in a restless spirit, indicating something more was in store — although I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time. (I probably didn’t appreciate it, and definitely didn’t follow it.)

Please don’t do that. (Time is too precious to waste.)

Presently, I’m the result of every decision I’ve ever made. (We all are.) Can’t change that — or the past — or it would have changed life’s course — moi — and later stumbling fortuitously upon these chairs. (There’s no such thing as coincidence!) Yes, something integral — innate — invisible — was forged. It lingered and I learned.

Thankfully, each time “blissful ignorance” threatened to overtake my countenance (and/or alter my already hazy sense of direction), another piece of my life’s puzzle showed up to point me in the right direction… including random chairs.

Lyrical Chairs

At first glance, they looked like suspects in a criminal investigation — raw, exposed, and sporting false identities, with years’ worth of reupholstering rendering their true identity into a gaudy “I dare  to sit on me” brocade facade. But, I just knew they had a story to tell (theirs and mine) and I felt compelled to rescue them — if not from further exposure, than perhaps to subject them to a gentler form of humiliation. (We should all be so kind to ourselves.)

“$50,” said the shop owner.

“Apiece?” I asked, expecting the price to be much higher for such fine craftsmanship.

“For all four,” she answered.

Who am I to question? Done deal! (I should be so lucky again at future thrift shops!) My budget hasn’t always been able to accommodate my whims — (it still isn’t) — but, on that particular day the funds happened to be available. (Thank you again, God!)

Post-transaction, I toted the chairs home intent on finding out what lay beneath their surface — not in a ‘paparazzi’ way (exposés aren’t my style, unless they pertain to myself in moments of honest scrutiny), and proceeded to remove layer upon layer and decade upon decade of fabric to reveal their original brown seat covers.

Serviceable. Sedate. Safe.

Bear in mind, there’s nothin’ wrong with a “plain brown life” — or whatever color your song (or upholstery) reveals! Uncover it with unabashed enthusiasm and self-abandon, no matter how many layers it may be buried under. (And never mind what anybody else’s expectation of the results may be.) Find YOURS and don’t look back.

Delight is in the discovery!

These days “simplicity” is de rigueur for me, but other times… hoohah! Dress it up a lil’ and celebrate! (Life and chairs.)

boho-bow

Isn’t that what living “for real” is all about…?

Uncovering layers of yourself until the Truth is revealed, curiously and kindly? It doesn’t have to be scintillating to be satisfying. In fact, sometimes an ordinary life lived extraordinarily is just the ticket… and the long sought-after answer. (But, you can always make it more fun!) Reupholstering may be part of the process… just be sure it’s your choice of fabric! And… if life is a matter of survival for you (like it is for me now), remember that curbside opportunities are oft found later… much later… and they delight long afterwards. Keep your eyes open for possibilities, lest you miss them!

Which brings me back to The Lyrical Life

Express yourself, and don’t hold back. Tell somebody how life is affecting you at the moment! (Find a human being  — or a chair, if need be — to listen.) They often become a part of you — witnessing YOU — but they’re not YOU.

Be yourself, whatever you uncover!

Enjoying chairs and life to a greater degree,

~ Kim

© 2015 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Gone Fishin’…

fishdish1

I’ve been playing with a new fish plate lately. (Picture a kid with a new toy… one that doesn’t beep, light up, come with a remote, and/or require batteries.) When the only prompt is imagination, what becomes of a toy — and the entertainment value derived from it — is entirely up to the beholder.

Good old fashioned fun? You bet!

First up was Shrimp with Lime Cilantro Linguine — half adaptation / half inspiration (recipe later) — followed by a simple, satisfying Antipasto a few nights hence.

Antipasto

(No recipe… hover and you’ll figure it out.)

Then there were toast points

I thought about making plain ol’ tuna salad sammiches for lunch one day and toast points seemed like a fun way to dress up ordinary mid-day fare. Plus, they rather resembled fish scales — in my mind, lol — and ‘the plate’ was beckoning.

(I get a lot of mileage out of my imagination and the few ‘props’ I’ve managed to acquire — and experimenting with settings on my camera. ;)

Technicolor Tuna Salad Toast Points

“Technicolor” Tuna Salad on Toast Points

Okay, back to…

 Shrimp with Lime Cilantro Linguine

(Adapted from Chef Dennis Littley’s Pan Seared Red Snapper & Shrimp In A Lime Margarita Sauce. Woohoo!!! Thank you, Dennis.)

Pasta:

12 to 15 strands Pappardelle’s Lime Cilantro Linguine

Sauce:

2 Tbsp. butter, divided

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 oz. tequila (I used one of those airline-sized bottles of Cuervo Gold cuz Margarita season is still a few months off)

1 to 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice (or more, to taste)

Shrimp:

12 large frozen shrimp thawed in cold water, drained and patted dry

1 Tbsp. olive oil (more if needed)

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Zest of 1 lime

Prepare pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, but do not rinse. Plate as playfully as you wish. I had fun “swirling!” (The pasta, not me.)

Meanwhile make the sauce. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add tequila and lime juice. Increase heat to medium and stir constantly until the alcohol evaporates. (Mandatory taste testing is required to adjust the lime juice “to taste”… of course.) Remove pan from heat and add the remaining tablespoon of butter; stir until melted. Cover to keep warm.

Next make the shrimp. In a small skillet over medium heat warm the olive oil until hot. Season shrimp with salt and pepper to your satisfaction. Sauté briefly on both sides. (Add more olive oil if needed to keep shrimp from sticking.) Transfer sautéed shrimp to saucepan; stir gently to coat with sauce. Pour shrimp & sauce over plated linguine and garnish with cilantro and lime zest. Serve immediately.

Note: I intended to present this dish per Dennis’ original recipe with pan-seared fish, but my fillets fell apart. (My fault, not his — I used flimsy flounder instead of red snapper.) But it sure made a tasty “side” and it left more sauce for the shrimp! Win-win.

shrimp with lime cilantro linguine

On a personal note, The Man Of Few Words and I are still in limbo this many months after the fire, but we’re hoping to be in our next home — a “fixer upper” — in early March. That said, I’ll be Gone Fishin’ the next couple weeks helping that beloved man o’mine with repairs.

Many thanks to each and every one of you who have contributed to the fundraiser my daughter started for us. We’re soooooooo grateful for your help! Temporary life (even ‘foodie life’ with just a few “toys”) has been blessed because of your kindness and caring. Thank you xo.

Now, go… have fun with your food (and props)… and hug your loved ones close! I’ll catch up with you soon.

Enjoying food tremendously- even when it’s served on the same plate twice… or three times, ;)

~ Kim

Cookware Debut

Fish Poached in White Wine 1

Humor me and hover over the photos…

 

I didn’t realize how dependent I was on my cookware until I had to use somebody else’s… a conflagration of pots and pans with mismatched lids. Gotta love ‘cabin’ cooking!

Since last November every meal has been a challenge and I’ve been doing my best trying to maintain normal life (and meals) with the implements at hand.

This feast, however, was accomplished in my newly arrived stainless steel cookware (with lids that match!) and I couldn’t help but debut it with something spectacular.

Fish Poached in White Wine 2

Who else to turn to but Julia Child?

Fish poached in white wine… ahhhhh, yes… life (and eating) is good.

I love her technique for “napping” the fish with the reduced stock — in this case thickened with cornstarch (due to my gluten issues) rather than a beurre manié.

Nap Time

The best way to share ‘how to’ is for you to check out Mastering The Art of French Cooking from your local library — if you don’t already own a copy — and turn to pages 208-211. (I don’t want to plagarize.)

All I can say was that it was fantastic… and, what a blessing it was to finally have the ‘right’ pan to cook with.

Some things are worth waiting for.

Enjoying reading, new recipes — and cookware!

~ Kim

Almost In My Kitchen ~ February 2015

Potential Dinner

I had hoped to write this post from the vantage point of a “permanent” kitchen, but we’re still in our temporary digs for a few more weeks, and most of the “kitchen stuff” I’ve acquired is packed in boxes in the spare bedroom. (No sense unpacking twice!) So, rather than show you what I cook with, I decided to share a lil’ story about how I cook.

Many thanks to Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hostessing In My Kitchen each month — a delightful global gathering — and for her (and your) heartfelt responses to our post-fire plight. We’re truly blessed by your friendship and caring.

If you haven’t yet enjoyed the many kitchen treasures and perspectives from around the world (or added your own), please visit Celia’s blog linked above.

.   .   .   .   .

Most days I start out with a plan. An agenda.  A “to-do” list… cooking-wise, that is. Dinner is usually in progress (or already made) by the time my hubby has the faintest notion of what he’s about to eat.

Today, however, I waited until The Man Of Few Words (TMOFW) got home and asked what he wanted for supper. (I’m like that sometimes.)

“Stew” was his one-word answer — a re-heat of last night’s repast. I’m soooo thankful he’s easy to please.

After delivering his steaming bowl of stew hot out of the microwave (lol), I began to ponder which flavors and textures I wanted. (FYI, we don’t always eat the same meal on any given night, and “cooking for two” In My Kitchen literally means cooking for two — as in two separate meals.) TMOFW’s non-fussiness and my sense of ‘flavor adventure’ were a culinary match made in heaven.

A quick check of the fridge prompted subsequent questions for moi. What needed to be used up first? What could I make out of it? What was I hungry for — subject to whim, of course. (Such is how my mind, budget, appetite, and fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants menu ‘planning’ work.) But don’t be fooled by that thought. I keep a ‘running list’ of potential meals that can be made with the contents therein, and I add ideas to it daily — generally after reading everybody else’s posts. ;) So many recipes to try!

A kettle of chicken stock bursting with veggies (potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, garlic) and a chicken carcass ‘marinating’ overnight caught my eye. Hmmm… something with chicken? There was certainly enough meat left on the bones, and more than enough veggies to produce a one (or two) person meal — never mind that TMOFW had already made up his mind. (I love “cooking ahead,” too.) But, somehow I didn’t feel like soup. So into the freezer went six pints of glorious stock. I love when that happens.

The rest of the chicken and veggies were remanded into individual-size serving containers for yours truly’s lunch the next day or three. Waste not, want not.

By the way, the original chicken was roasted in the oven with peas. (The peas  turn out squiggly-looking that way, but they’re sooooo tasty!) I finished it by carving select pieces, sautéeing them ‘skin-side-down’ in butter until crispy, and topped ‘em with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a few grinds of black pepper. (Yum.) Dinner is often a two-step process here — and a one night stand. We seldom eat the same meal twice, separately or not. Reduce. re-use, recycle. ;)

In front of the open fridge, I pondered a few other options. Alfredo maybe? Or how about “hot dish?” (Pardon my Minnesotan…) Quesadillas? Stir fry? You’re only as limited as your food’s shelf-life or international cravings.

Then I looked in the crisper drawer and side shelves. Haricot verts. Check. Red potatoes. Check. Dijon mustard. Check. Capers. Check. By the looks of things, dinner was going be a Niçoise Salad. But… I wanted something even simpler. Caesar Salad, perhaps?

Classic Caesar Salad

(Quick aside: EVOO is perennially in stock In My Kitchen, along with sea salt and peppercorns waiting to be coarsely ground, as are balsamic vinegar and an assortment of herbs to make vinaigrette at will.) Plus, I’d made this Classic Caesar Salad  by my friend, Queen Jeanne, earlier in the week. Thanks, Jeanne, it was was fabulous!

I decided to blanch a few potatoes and haricot verts instead, plunge them into ice water, and wait until my stomach made up my mind. ;) After a quick toss with vinaigrette and capers, I called it a day!

Sometimes ya just gotta punt.

(And eat!)

Simple Salad 1

Are you a planner or a punter?

(Or a player?!)

Happy Superbowl Weekend.

Enjoying inspiration from all of you,

~ Kim

In My (Temporary) Kitchen ~ January 2015

In My (Temporary) Kitchen — for lack of a better description — is a mess! On November 11th an electrical fire swept through our home of nearly 7 years, leaving this in its wake:

The Rubble 1

Thankfully, The Man Of Few Words heard “crackling and popping” outside and poked his head out the door to see what it was. Flames were shooting out of the garage! Sensible soul that he is, he grabbed his phone and ran down the driveway dialing 911.

I, on the other hand, was playing piano for a Veteran’s Day tribute with visions of coming home to prepare a lovely anniversary dinner — steak and shrimp Scampi — yes, it was our wedding anniversary that day, too. Funny how “plans” (and life) can change so quickly.

On the plus side… we’re alive to tell the tale!

Nov 11

Photo courtesy of the Eufaula Fire Department

Our local fire department did a heroic job containing the blaze (despite 30 mile per hour north winds), and the Red Cross was on the scene before the flames flickered out. Tremendous folks, all of them!

(This may also help explain why I’ve been “offline” so much.)

Thank you for bearing with my sporadic silence… after I got my internet restored, I didn’t want to put a damper on your holidays, plus it’s given me time to sort out my life — and “social” priorities.

Here’s the deal.

For the past three years (going on four), I’ve been spouting platitudes such as “life is what you make it” and “you can’t be grumpy and grateful simultaneously” and “stuff isn’t the most important thing in life.” Well, now I have an opportunity to walk the talk. Literally.

There’s nothing so humbling as having nothing… yet I feel like I have everything!

Not only do I have unlimited writing material as the Phoenix rises from the ashes, I also have a few “magic carpet” adventures in store! ;) Stay tuned…

Magic Carpet

In My (Temporary) Kitchen, in contrast to our former life in the top photo, is this:

Kitchen

Could it be any more colorful?!

I’ve been blessed with a new, improved “Mondrian!”

(Remember the old one?)

??????????????????

In My (Temporary) Kitchen, passion and art are alive and well, too — and music is mere steps away. (More of that to come!)

Piano

In My (Temporary) Kitchen are the spices and seasonings that rock my world, plus fave utensils and ‘basics’ I’ve been blessed to replace thus far.

Spices

In My (Temporary) Kitchen, my makeshift storage baskets add a sense of anticipation as we slowly begin to build our new future…

Storage

And then there’s FUN stuff, like when I discovered a baker’s rack at a local clothing store, of all places — even if I had to put it in the living room for now. (I can hardly wait until flea market season starts!)

Bakers Rack

There’ve also been heartfelt, whimsical gifts from friends to bolster our spirits, xo…

Good Times

As well as genuine offers to help. (More in next month’s IMK post.)

In My Kitchen is HOPE… for a better New Year, a blessed life (ongoing), and being able to appreciate every lil’ thing… including beauty amongst the rubble.

Wishing all of you a stellar 2015… may it include peace, health, and plenty of chocolate.

(Some things never change!)

Truffles

Sincerest thanks to Celia from Fig Jam & Lime Cordial for this monthly opportunity to share In My Kitchen — where life is lived… even temporarily — and to all of you who’ve commented on my previous IMK posts to say you care. xo

Enjoying being in “my” kitchen in spite things,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ November 2014

Chocolates from Wayne & Dawn

In My Kitchen are were these spicy, chocolate-y, Tabasco-infused treats that Wayne & Dawn Nix of Louisiana shared with me in September. (See my Running Away From Home post for “why.”) I’m also still drooling over the gluten-free chestnut flour brownies shared by Celia in her October IMK post her most requested recipe to date! (Which says a lot to me, even if I’m a month late mentioning it.) Chocolate is always worth mentioning twice!

Coconut Oil

In My Kitchen… is organic coconut oil. (Sorry for the slightly fuzzy photo, but I’m still slightly fuzzy about what to do with it!) The question foremost on my mind is: “Can I use it like butter in cookie recipes?” The holidays are just around the corner and I’m craving home-baked cookies. What’s your opinion (or experience) on substituting it for ‘other fats’? I love coconut… and fats… (busted, lol!) and I’d really  appreciate your helpful hints, comments, and recommendations on incorporating this new-to-me oil into my holiday baking & cooking. Thanks!

Beef Broccoli

In My Kitchen is the most unorthodox (and most un-Asian?) pairing of flavors — beef, broccoli, and Bleu cheese stir fry. (Sorry, no recipe… it was a “one-time inspiration”… tasty, too.) Remind me to keep a pen & paper In My Kitchen! This dish was soooo playful I couldn’t resist doing the photo in ‘cartoon mode.’ (Life’s too short not to play!)

I’d also like to express my sincere, heartfelt thanks to all of you who commented on my previous posts (minus my usual enthusiastic reply…) — I truly appreciated your caring, sympathy, and concern, but I wasn’t quite up to par yet. Again, thanks! xoxo

And, thanks Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hostessing this fun monthly event! For details on how to join — or to see kitchens & goodies from ’round the world — please click on the link to Celia’s blog.

Enjoying playing In My Kitchen again,

~ Kim

Kitchen Therapy

Baked Flounder 2

Baked Flounder with Portobello Duxelle, Sauteed Greens, & Jasmine Rice

Y’all were probably wondering if I cook anymore…

Truth is I do and fact is: cooking has taken on an even greater role at present.

I call it: Kitchen Therapy.

The dish pictured above was the product of both hands working together in conjunction with my brain (no small feat, as you’ll soon find out) — the smaller the dice, the more difficult it is — but I was craving a Duxelle to go with with some flounder fillets, so I persevered. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Two weeks ago I had a stroke. Yup. A stroke. (A ‘slight one’ per the Doc.) All I knew was that my left leg wasn’t cooperating (a funky feeling), my left arm hung limply at my side, and my left hand was completely unresponsive. Not good! Basically, it put the “kibosh” on everything, especially in the kitchen. (And at my piano… sigh.)

First, you ought to know I’m not an ‘anxious person’ — I take life (and limb) as it comes. No sweat! (Or at least I hope that’s the general impression you’ve gotten from this lil’ ol’ blog o’mine.)

Second, y’all know me… living & loving at the lake, and all that. Could life be anymore relaxed?!

Boots & Blue

This event came out of the blue — in the middle of the night, I might add — as do many of life’s unexpected events. I simply woke up and thought, “Well, this is a new one!”

In the subsequent weeks I’ve relied heavily on the millions+ prayers from friends and family, and I’m delighted to report they’re working. After a prayer session at church last Sunday, my fingers began to move (hallelujah, praise God!) and within two days, I was back at choir rehearsal playing the piano… something I couldn’t have even imagined doing the week before. (And I have a BIG imagination.)

Whatever your beliefs are, I’m telling you, “faith and hope yield fantastic, miraculous results… not to mention fantastic food, if ya just stick with it.

Flounder with Duxelle, Greens, & Jasmine Rice

Flounder with Portobello Duxelle

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 large onion, finely diced

Sprinkle of salt (I used Himalayan Pink)

8 oz. portobello mushrooms (gills removed), finely diced

4 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish

Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated nutmeg

2 flounder fillets, rinsed and patted dry

Heat butter & olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced onions; sprinkle with salt. “Sweat” until translucent (stir occasionally to avoid browning.) Increase heat to medium-high. Add the diced mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms release their liquid.

Stir in the parsley and lemon juice. Cook until liquid(s) evaporate. Season to taste with salt, pepper, & nutmeg.

Spoon half of the duxelle into a buttered baking dish (I used a small glass loaf pan) and top with the flounder fillets. Spoon remaining duxelle over the top.

Cover and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

(I served mine with rice and greens, but a salad & bread sticks would be lovely, too.)

Last year I said October is a cataclysmic month for me. This year’s no exception.

Autumn at the Lake

Enjoying life and limb(s) at the lake ,

~ Kim