Skillet Love

Summer Skillet

I used to think cast iron skillets were for frying chicken. Bacon and eggs. Steak. Spam. (And some pretty decent hashbrowns.)

Then Mom gave me these cherished relics — the lil’ Griswold skillet (above), and the Sperry griddle and larger “Never Break” skillet (below.)

Skillet Love 1

Generations of women cooked ‘real food’ in these pans — Mom, Grandma, and Mrs. Rogers (my piano teacher, to whom the “Never Break” belonged) — and I’m honored to be next in line. Considering that Mrs. Rogers was approaching 80 when I was a mere babe in the kitchen (my last piano lesson was over 40 years ago), I’d say her skillet was well-seasoned. The others, too.

Come to think of it, so am I. ;)

I can still ‘see’ Mom cooking breakfasts in that lil’ skillet, and one of my favorites was a Bohemian pancake (of sorts) called “Schmun.” I have no idea if the spelling is correct, but it was fun Googling it… amazing what you can find out about folks when your Czech is rusty or non-existent!

Schmun consists of 2 eggs lightly beaten, a cup of milk, a cup of flour, and a pinch of salt, whisked ’til smooth and fried to golden goodness in a liberally buttered hot cast iron skillet. About mid-way through, you start cutting the ‘big pancake’ into smaller pieces — similar to when the smaller space ships broke off from the Mother Ship in “Independence Day” — and continue frying the ‘independent’ pieces until all the sides are nicely browned. Add more butter… if needed? (That wasn’t a trick question.) Serve immediately with warm maple syrup.

I cooked with that skillet for the first time when I made meals for my folks on the ol’ Norge last year, and it primarily served as a sauté pan. (Mom developed a penchant for microwave cooking during the last decade and got rid of her ‘other’ pans.) Thanks heavens she kept the cast iron! I had yet to discover its wonders.

Then, last fall my sister came bearing a heavy box when she visited. Not only had Mom sent the skillets and griddle, she included two slightly battered lids — one large and one small. Anybody remember those? (I sent the larger one back with my Sis for her efforts, and to share the skillet love!)

Skillet Love 2

Lo and behold this summer, my garden began producing a bounty of veggies — particularly grape tomatoes, or so the label said. (They’re more the size of a plum tomato!) Previous assumptions ‘cast’ aside (I know…), I began to experiment with my skillet stash with divine results.

Tomatoes 1

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, some sliced tomatoes combined with summer squash, a sprinkle of cracked pepper and sea salt (or Pink Himalayan), and possibly Greek seasoning (or whatever ‘flavor of the day’ tickles my fancy — my adjunct seasonings vary every time, such fun!), and in ten minutes or less supper’s on the table. (Or at least my supper… ) The kitchen also doesn’t heat up from steaming and/or roasting.

I adore cast iron cooking!

No need to be concerned about tomato’s acidity on the skillets — or me. (By the way, that’s not intended as ‘medical advice.’) I did some research and nearly every article said it was a matter of ‘seasoning’ to thwart any ill-effects. Start with a well-seasoned skillet; re-season as needed. FYI, the contrary articles said ‘use your judgment.’ Done deal. I’m pretty sure my skillets have built up a protective coating after a century — plus I take good care of them. (And me!)

I’m reaping the flavorful benefits of kitchen savvy and cooking vessels from women I’ve long admired — that goes for you, too, Sis! — and I’m loving it.

Summer Skillet 2

Enjoying a lil’ skillet love,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Rhapsody in Blue VI

Laugh

I used to be the world’s worst — or most flagrant — impulse-buyer. Whenever I ‘saw’ something that appealed to my eyeballs (whether I needed it or not), into my cart it went. Sigh… live and learn.

A few decades (and several budgetary revelations) later, I recognized the error of my ways and eventually figured out that happiness wasn’t the result of the latest greatest gadget, handy-dandy doodad, or “shiny, sparkly, pretty, ooh ahhh” frill or froufrou — it’s the accumulation of meaningful moments… a compendium of conscious choices… and often, a mirror of what’s going on within.

The void isn’t filled with ‘stuff.’

There were times when my self-esteem was sooooo lacking I almost cried thinking about it — but I didn’t. Know why? Because what matters most is now. In the past, shopping and fill in the blank here ___________ were temporary fixes, and on those occasions when I took myself (and less reliable second parties) waaaaaay too seriously in an attempt to make up for my supposed lack — well, I was taking unsolicited advice to heart — and second-guessing myself.

When it comes down to what (and who) you ‘believe,’ please put yourself first in line! Take the Truth into consideration — you’ll know in your heart-of-hearts what it is — and don’t let anyone dissuade you or convince you otherwise!

Old Boy close up

A few mornings ago I was sitting on the deck when I happened to glance to my left. (FYI, I don’t think it was a coincidence.) There, perched on a tree at the edge of the bluff, was my lake buddy, Old Boy. He wasn’t doing anything special or spectacular, other than hanging out — like me. In that moment of soul-searing self-awareness, I realized that I was smiling. Broadly.

There wasn’t a single ‘worldly good’ in front of me, except for my new coffee mug (above) purchased for a buck off the clearance rack at the Dollar Store. (I still allow myself such frivolities occasionally, albeit within my budget.) It dawned on me for the thirteen-millionth time or so in the last five decades that this is what it’s all about — small graces and huge blessings!

Your worth is not equivalent to the contents of your shopping cart!

If I ‘valued’ myself by the size of my purchases these days, I’d be pretty small indeed. How easy it is to succumb to the more/bigger/better mindset (been there, done that)… prompted by heavily marketed ‘wants’ and anxiety-producing illusory ‘needs.’ Stop!

The next time you’re tempted to add ‘one more thing’ to your shopping cart (or life) — especially a ‘not-on-your-list’ item — take a moment to interrupt your reverie and ask yourself: “Does this add value to my life — or am I trying to create artificial value? Reality check — how much do you value yourself… truthfully?

If there’s any doubt as to the answer to that last question, proceed with haste to the nearest full-length mirror (forget about your place in line!) and take a good long look… then smile at your reflection. You’re worth soooooo much more than an ‘impulse buy.’ Get what you need — give yourself what you need on occasion (without guilt) — and get rid of the rest!

As if to affirm my present state of ‘older & wiser’ contentedness, Old Boy turned toward me with this ‘look’ and I couldn’t help but laugh!

Old Boy 5

See yourself through the eyes of a true friend.

Folks (and Great Blue Herons) who appreciate you — who value you, quirks and all, with their honest insights are worth more than shopping-carts-full of temporary fixes. Allow yourself those rare moments of grace and good humor — believe those sincere, supportive, heartfelt estimations of your worth (can we say discernment with a capital D?!), shore up your own ‘self-worth’ to match asap if need be, and, most of all, be as kind to yourself as you are to everybody else!

Our human frailties, the uniqueness of our weaknesses and how ‘fickle’ we tend to be (depending on the latest input and what we choose to ‘think’) — as well as what we think of ourselves — are entirely a matter of perspective.

Sometimes all it takes is a friend looking you straight in the eye to see the Truth.

Believe it!

It’s amazing to me (and a lil’ bit disconcerting) how quickly we complicate the simple things — the important things! — and how prone we are to believe the worst — especially of ourselves. Please take a non-critical look in another direction — if need be, through the eyes of a true friend — then decide to be your own best friend!

Enjoying unabashed honesty from trusted friends (including myself) after all these years,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

In My Kitchen ~ July 2014

Lox & Bagel Pizza 2

(Kindly hover for the hocus pocus ;)

In My Kitchen… is Lox & ‘Bagel’ Pizza.

This lil’ combo was a rainy day project, and a mighty tasty one, too. (Recipe follows.)

I was craving smoked salmon (when am I not?!) and when it rains my oven is on!

In My Kitchen… is fresh tomato pasta sauce.

With a smidge of fresh basil and oregano, a few cloves of garlic, a grind of the pepper mill and a pinch of sea salt, standing over the stove soon leads to sauce-dom!

But when the sun is shining…

In My Kitchen… I’m nowhere to be found.

Our dear friends brought over a mouth-watering shrimp boil and I ‘filled in’ the rest — salad greens & homemade Ranch dressing with a kick (thank you, Colleen!), Tandoori chicken skewers (thanks, Dennis!), a delectable dipping oil with focaccia, my beloved olives ;) and the quintessential dessert: chocolate chip cookies. A picnic table repast!

By the way, I did discover a couple of ‘finds’ since the last IMK. Look closely and you’ll see a glorious lil’ copper pot doubling as a serving tray for the aforementioned cookies, plus a pair of rustic-looking placemats in the first photo. Long live thrift stores!

Okay, here’s that pizza recipe…

Lox & Bagel Pizza

1 (7.5 oz.) gluten free pizza crust mix, prepared per pkg. instructions
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. light cream
2 oz. freshly grated Parmesan
1 small fresh tomato, thinly sliced
1/2 small Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
Toppings:
Smoked salmon
Capers
Green onions with tops, sliced diagonally
Fresh basil, cut ala chiffonade (ribbons)

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Make pizza crust as directed (or not — I subbed Feta cheese for the recommended grated Cheddar.) Press dough onto an ungreased baking sheet to form a thin crust with slightly raised edges.

Mix cream cheese and cream until smooth; spread over crust. Top with tomato and onion slices. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake 13-15 minutes.

Top with smoked salmon, capers, green onions, and basil. Eat!

In My Kitchen is a monthly event cordially hostessed by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. Please see the links in her sidebar and do pop in to say hello — kitchens from around the world are at your fingertips!

Enjoying summer fun in my kitchen — & out,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

When Life Hands You…

Skewers 1

Hello there! Didn’t mean to fall off the face of planet blog-world, but I’ve been off-line more than on lately. In our neck o’ the woods, my only connection to humanity is via satellite; when the skies bust loose and dump buckets, I get no signal. Or as The Man Of Few Words says: “We don’t get rain, we get monsoons.” (Who’da thunk it in Oklahoma?) Anyway, it gave me plenty of time to think, and here’s what I’ve been thinking about.

Nature’s colors repeat themselves.

As I was savoring this tropical medley on the deck yesterday (in between monsoons), a pair of mango-colored orioles fluttered overhead, followed by a strawberry-red cardinal and a kiwi-hued hummingbird. Sheer joy!

And then… a seed got stuck in my teeth. (Sorry for the visual, but I figured you could relate to that feeling.) After dashing into the house for a toothpick to extricate the offender, I meandered outside again to ponder life’s lil’ analogies.

During the past week I’ve felt happiness, despair, joy, grief, love, heartache, laughter, tears, empathy, anger, relief, and concern as the special folks God put in my life shared their hearts with me. These feelings felt very familiar — like déjà vu.

Emotions repeat themselves, too.

Whether triggered by good news or bad — past memories or present-day realities — involuntary circumstances or voluntary circumspection — the truth is plain and simple: we’re meant to feel a fruit salad of emotions.

Fruit Salad

Dealing with them is another matter.

At one time in my life, I opted to ‘not feel’ when things got dicey. I wasn’t equipped (then) to meet my emotions head-on and I believed it was better to feel ‘nothing’ than to feel anything. As a result, I spent a lot of time ‘wishing’ things were different. (Funny how life still happens while you’re avoiding emotions — and decision making.) I finally figured out that ‘not feeling’ is a decision, and that life is the result of every decision I’ve ever made — intentionally or not, emotionally or not.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there will always be situations without quick solutions (or any resolution at all), as well as moments so vibrant and colorful they take my breath away — and everything in between! They’re all in the salad bowl — including ‘seeds’ — and I shortchange myself when I don’t experience every single one of them.

Sometimes it takes gritting my teeth to power through.

Anger and injustice still catch me by surprise — so does grief — but (for me) they’re rooted in ‘caring deeply.’ Out of the ashes rises the Phoenix.

Then there’s elation. I love feeling elated! (Who doesn’t?) Yet it comes with a double-edged sword: the air gets pretty thin up there, clinging to mountain-top moments. When I climb down from the fantastic and live what’s in front of me — which is pretty darn good — life is better. (Or at least more balanced.) There’s nothin’ wrong with reviewing stellar moments now and then, but elation tends to elicit comparison and it subtly edges out gratitude. Nothing will ever be as wonderful/marvelous/woohoo as ‘that’ time, so smile and let it goooooo.

As for the rest of the emotional medley — well, I’ll take it as it comes. Like fruit salad. And, sometimes…

I just use a bigger toothpick. ;)

Swizzle 1

Enjoying fruit salad,

~ Kim

How (and what) are YOU feeling today?

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

In My Kitchen ~ June 2014

Simon & Garfunkel Chicken

In My Kitchen… is Simon & Garfunkel Chicken.

(Try saying that fast 3 times!)

It all began with my burgeoning crop of herbs. I couldn’t help but sing a lil’ tune as I stuffed this organic bird with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. ;)

The next day it led to this.

Scarborough Fair Salad

In My Kitchen… is Scarborough Fair Salad.

This impromptu plateful included sliced chicken, red pears, gluten-free tri-colored pasta and a sassy vinaigrette with the aforementioned herb quartet adding grace notes — colorful and carefree, like going to the fair. The flavor was downright melodic, too!

I love it when food sings back to me.

Sorry folks, no recipe per se… just an “oldie but goodie” concoction consisting of Dijon mustard, a smidge of honey, balsamic vinegar, EVOO, fresh herbs o’the day, sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, and capers to taste. Whisk away!

In My Kitchen… not a whole lot has been going on.

Hello, summer!

I’ve been outdoors more than in, spent more time cooking other folks’ recipes than my own (future post material) and haven’t added any new kitchen toys or gizmos, other than this plate, bowl, and utensils from the local Goodwill Store — shown here with Bacon & Créme Fraiche Quiche Lorraine, thanks to my friend Gintare’s fabulous recipe — and a lil’ Spanish rice ala moi. ;)

Welcome to breakfast in Oklahoma!

Bacon Quiche and Spanish Rice

(I foresee more flea market shopping and friend’s-recipes-cooking in my future.) ;)

Between all of that — or lack thereof — I’m perfectly content with the status quo — which may help explain my fascination with In My Kitchen.

Each month Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial hosts this forum with links to posts from around the world (see the side bar on her blog) where you & I can ogle or add to every gadget & goodie imaginable… sorta like window shopping, only with real-life (and wonderful) writing and photography!

Thank you, Celia, and everyone who participates in IMK. You appease my foodie soul during the dry spells, and that’s definitely something to sing about!

Speaking of which…

Do you sing while you cook?

Enjoying oldies but goodies — sung or otherwise,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Speedy Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

I love lingering over the stove coaxing ingredients into slow-simmered goodness, but sometimes I need a quick fix — an elixir, if you will.

(When your tastebuds are clamoring to jump on the express lane to flavor town, it’s best to appease them.)

Here’s my favorite 20 minute panacea.

Speedy Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

(adapted from this recipe. Thanks, Jenna!)

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. curry powder
2 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. diced canned tomatoes, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium sweet potato
1/4 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. Garam Masala (optional)

Combine oil and onion in a saucepan over medium-high heat; sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and curry powder; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Pour in chicken stock and tomatoes; bring to a boil and stir in black beans. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer.

Meanwhile poke the sweet potato several times with a fork. Microwave 7-8 minutes until just this side of done. (Or use a leftover baked sweet potato for a quicker fix!) Cool slightly, then peel and cut into cubes.

Transfer sweet potato cubes to broth, simmer 4-5 minutes, and season with salt & pepper. Add Garam Masala if desired and enjoy!

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup 2

What’s your favorite “fast” food?

Enjoying quick fixes,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Random Playfulness

Time To Play

I won’t bore you with further details of my recently all-too-busy-life (insert maniacal laughter here), but things are finally starting to slow down and it’s time to play!

Everybody deserves a break now and then, especially a playful one.

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a random question & answer type post, but my friend, Nolita from M*O*R*G*A*N*I*C — another Oklahoma blogger, woohoo! — tagged me… teased me… tempted me to break out of my ‘profound’ writing rut. (Thanks, Nolita!) Sometimes ya just gotta bust loose.

Before I get to that, I have to add a lil’ girly infusion (thanks for bearing with me, guys) and an explanation for my “you deserved it” dinner — which I thoroughly enjoyed! I figure every woman/wife/mom/girlfriend (and yes, guy!) can appreciate the “busy” background in my photos. Such is our lot in life at times. (And I was hungry.)

It’s not every day I cook up a seafood fest for myself, but I felt the need… especially since The Man of Few Words (TMOFW) stance on Mother’s Day is/was/and always will be: “You’re not my mother!”

Yup… no card, no flowers, no dinner out. (Gotta love that man, xo.) That holiday and a few others continue to be an entirely on-my-own affair — and what better way to celebrate “my day” than with goodies that don’t often cross “our” table? By the way, I was nice and shared. (Except for the lobster and drawn butter…) Bwahahaha! ;)

Time to Play 3

First up was shrimp cocktail. It may surprise you to learn that I didn’t like shrimp until last year. (Gasp!) For some reason these succulent crustaceans didn’t appeal to me taste-wise, texture-wise, or otherwise until I made an umpteenth batch of Shrimp Scampi for my beloved (his favorite) and finally tried one. What do ya know? I liked ‘em!

Better late than never.

Next up were the fabulous crab cakes shared by my friend, Jeanne. (Forever in your and your son’s debt, my dear.) Your three-ingredient dipping sauce was to die for, too!

Not to be outdone by an abundance of butter and mayonnaise (did I mention I have naturally low cholesterol?) I had to make Easy Curry Hollandaise Sauce with Asparagus by my Chef pal, Larry Fournillier… soooooo tasty. (Thanks, Larry!)

Belated Mother's Day Dinner

Now… back to those random questions. Here’s the deal. If you want to participate, do. If you don’t, don’t! I totally understand time crunches! (I think I was supposed to make up some new questions for you, too, but I kinda liked these… and if I started tagging folks, this post would be ten times longer than it already is.)

You know who you are!

Leave your answers in my comment section or start a whole new trend on your blog. ;) Mostly, have fun!

1. What has been your favorite vacation to date? My initial answer was “every day TMOFW and I spent on the road together while we were trucking,” but let’s not mix business with pleasure. Final answer? Our trip to Niagra Falls. When we got married (almost 15 years ago), we were both ‘starting over’ if ya know what I mean, and we couldn’t afford a proper honeymoon.

On our 5th anniversary we made up for lost time and did a “Great Lakes Tour” — I’m talkin’ drive around, over, and past every one of the Great Lakes in a car — which was a welcome change of pace from our semi(s) — and it included the long-awaited stop at Niagra Falls on the Canadian and U.S. sides. Corny, hokey… and entirely memorable!

2. Do you prefer big city life, suburban life, or life in the country? See header photo.

3. What is your favorite type/genre of food? Edible — preferably home-cooked.

4. How would you typically dress for a weekend night out? We don’t go out very often (see header photo…) but when we do, I tend to “fancy up.” (TMOFW not so much.) The pearls in my photos serve more than one purpose. :)

5. Do you like to wear accessories? If yes, what are your go-to accessories? I’m not much of an “accessories” person, but I do like scrunchies (in every color of the rainbow) to doll up my ever-present pony tail.

6. How do you typically fix your hair? (Blow dry and straighten/curl? Air dry? Wash and go?) See #5 above. The less time I spend on my hair, the more it leaves for other stuff.

7. What makeup do you wear on a daily basis? Do you have a preferred brand of cosmetics? I’m a “wash your face and get on with it” kinda gal, but I have a weakness for mascara and lipstick. (My eyelashes and lips tend to disappear without them.)

8. What is your preferred workout? (Gym? Outdoor running? Yoga? Group classes? None?) Stirring vigorously, chopping food like I mean it, and running back and forth between my kitchen, computer, and piano. (Walking also ranks right up there.)

9. Where is your favorite place to shop? Thrift stores and flea markets.

10. Do you enjoy entertaining guests in your home or would you prefer to be a guest and leave the hostessing to someone else? I love to entertain, but if anybody wants to invite me over, I’m game…

11. What quality do you really value in your significant other? His ineffable ability to be himself (even if it means cooking for myself on holidays now & then…) and his quiet encouragement for me to be “me.” Life doesn’t get much finer!

And this?

Random Playfulness

This is the flower he picked for me yesterday… for no reason at all.

Enjoying random playfulness,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch