Flame On!

When I was growing up in Minnesota, I liked Fantastic Four comics — especially the guy who could burst into flames when he uttered, “Flame on!”  (Spontaneous combustion was a coveted super power during the long, cold winters.)  Now that I’m roasting (and still growing up) in Oklahoma, fire is the last thing on my mind … except when it comes in the form of an award:

Many thanks to Isabelle for the “warm fuzzy!”  Now it’s my turn to pass along the honor.  But first…

Passionate writing inspires us to be warmer people — whether that passion is for food, family, friends, or fellowship.  The element that connects readers, writers, and lurkers alike is being fired up over something.  Life’s too brief to be anything but ablaze.

In random order, the award goes to…

1)  A Day Without Sushi.  Amber motivates me to write with her insights about writing.  Plus, she’s entertaining and amusing.  We should all be so talented!

2)  Miss Wisabus.  Elizabeth’s blog appeals to me for many reasons; “fresh and fun” is how I’d describe her.  Excellent photography and uplifting thoughts await you, not to mention unabashed admiration for the Royal Couple.

3)  Chocolate For Breakfast.  Life isn’t about deprivation, but moderation — a point that Sue Ann brings out so well.  For a balanced approach to life (and treats), don’t delay.  You really can — and should — enjoy chocolate for breakfast.

4)  The Culinary Lens.   Mike and I met a month ago and we’ve been trading comments ever since.  Our food friendship is a contrast between Life In The Big Apple and Green Acres.  LOL.

5)  1000 + 1.  Sharizat combines cooking with creative thinking.  (Prime example:  Chaos vs. Order and Iced Coffee.)  I realize that’s two links — take your pick.  Great food and food for thought, too.

6)  Critty Joy.  Christy writes from the heart and her heart is on fire for the Lord.  Beautiful thoughts from a beautiful young woman.  Thank you for being my friend.

7)  Your’s Truly, Melissa.  Formerly known as “Melissa’s Oklahoma,” this blog and it’s talented writer/photographer showcase the State we live in and love so well.

8)  My Fiance Likes It, So It Must Be Good.  Peggy’s engaged — plus she’s an engaging writer and a chef destined for culinary greatness!

9)  Guns – Grub – and – other Goodies.  Missy is a hard-working Oklahoma gal who knows how to shoot straight — with a 357 and her writing.  (Just don’t paste this award too close to your hay bales, Missy!)

10)  Cosmopolitan Currymania.  Purabi’s expertise with spices fascinates me.  We met on Tasty Kitchen (which reminds me… has anybody seen my Tasty Kitchen button?  I lost it when I was fiddling with my widgets.  Anyway, a new link will be up and running soon!)  If you want to spice up your life, please visit Purabi’s blog!

* The prerequisite to accepting this award is to pass it along to ten bloggers who ignite your world with their thoughts.  Flame on!

Enjoying life’s incendiary moments,

~ Kim

P.S.  I Googled to see if there was any “fine print” attached to this honor.  Two out of three bloggers insisted on sharing seven random things…

1)  My favorite color is orange.

2)  My favorite pajamas are blue and teal plaid.  (Orange is not a good color for me up close.)

3)  The other night I tried to photograph lightning during an impending thunderstorm.  Do not attempt this at home.  But it was exhilarating.

4)  I’m due for a new pair of cowboy boots and I’m leaning towards flashy ones.

5)  If I could go on vacation anywhere in the world, I’d go back to Iceland.  (Now that’s a cool thought!)

6)  My dining room table is a mess.  (All things writing-related end up there.)  I’ll think about that tomorrow…

7)  I still like the idea of having a super power.  Which one would you pick?

Setting Things A-Rite With Alton Brown

After my vacation over the 4th, I promised you some travel highlights and food.  Now that it’s the end of July, I must set things aright (or a-rite as the title alludes…)  And, while I enjoy writing about my own food frolics, sometimes I simply must extol the virtues of “other people’s food.”

“Good heavens, what is she babbling about?” you may ask.

I’m talking about Maid Rites.

Maid Rites are a ground beef phenomenon on a bun.  A Midwest marvel in a sandwich.  A ticket to hamburger heaven…  Okay, you get my drift.  (The Man of Few Words agreed; he signified “aye” with his elbow.)

Simply put:  Maid Rite’s made right.  They’re served right, too.

Notice the classic “burger basket” presentation.  The sandwich is wrapped in logo-laden-waxed-paper with a generous side of hand-cut fries in their own paper basket, artfully assembled on a red plastic tray.  (The previous information was shared with the intent to avert your eyes from the “beef crumble” stuck to my sweet tea glass — oh well.)

The only embellishments necessary for a Maid Rite are thinly sliced dill pickles and onions, which are added when you order.

At the table, ketchup and mustard await in nostalgic dispenser bottles, which you may add.  (I don’t.)  No need to mess with perfection.  Love those little “maid” get-ups.  (Really — I do!)

FYI, hover your mouse over the photos for a summary of this review.  (I often tell a “second story” in the pop-up captions.)  Such fun. :)

Regarding the vacation re-cap, it pretty much consisted of 28 hours in a car with no air conditioning, more relatives than I could possibly include in one post, and R & R by the lake.   A good time was had by all, especially me.  There you have it.  A promise is a promise.

So where does Alton Brown figure into the scheme of things, besides our mutual penchant for road trips and diner food?

In a previous post, I mentioned Alton’s book, “Feasting On Asphalt.”  Not only is it highly entertaining fare, he included the recipe for Maid Rites (or a pretty darn close adaptation), which I know you’ll enjoy very much.  He also wrote a much more comprehensive review.  Give credit where credit is due, I say.

Enjoying the journey (and a Maid Rite or two),

~ Kim

P.S.  My review took place at the Iowa Visitors’ Center, where we stopped to cool off on the way home.  I’m happy to report that the “tipped” cows are now aright — or a-rite, whichever you prefer.  And, something new has been added…

Toast

Did I ever mention it’s hilly around here?

Very hilly?

Three weeks ago the hubby’s pickup rebelled.  He tinkered.  He monkey-wrenched (at least I think that’s what he used.)  He scraped three knuckles and an elbow.  He crawled under, climbed over, and hunched motionless, pondering the perplexities of an ’85 engine antiquated enough to be coaxed with a bit of muscle — yet new enough to contain a “computer” — which, in his opinion, is unnecessary.  Unless it doesn’t work.

Two trips to the parts store and five scavenger hunts in the junkyard later, he shook his head at his still-defunct truck, put his hands on his hips and muttered: “It’s toast.”  Not as in: “yummy, slathered with butter, I look forward to this on the weekends” kind of toast.  TOAST.

As in: Too Obsolete And Stupid Truck.  (His succinctness floors me at times.)  I don’t call him The Man of Few Words for nothin’.

With only one vehicle and two jobs, somebody had to make the schedule sacrifice.  Yup.  That would be me.

The first week I got up at 4:30 a.m., drove the hubby to work, and dashed home to enjoy an hour and a half of solitude (or an hour and a half less sleep, depending upon how you look at it…), then filled my “spare time” with all the things working women cram into rare moments of “newfound leisure” — laundry, house-cleaning, meal-planning, etc. — done with the intent on “getting ahead” so I could come home and relax at the end of the day.  Ha.  Then I got ready for work, drove to work, did my work, and after work, picked up the hubby where he worked.  By the end of the week, I was toast.

(No acronym — just exhausted.)

The following week, Plan B went into effect.

I “slept in” until 5:00 a.m., got ready for work, rode with the hubby into town (who dropped me off an hour and a half early, or an hour an a half less sleep…), where I wandered up and down the sidewalks “at my leisure” until starting time — the appeal of which wore off after the first two days.  There’s only so much window shopping you can do in a three block area.  And 105°.

After work, the M of FW retrieved me on his way by and whisked me home, where I’d launch into all the things working women cram into their evening hours (laundry, house-cleaning, meal-planning…) until I dropped into bed exhausted.  Toast, times two.  Something had to change.

Wonder of wonders, I discovered we have public transit here.

Now before y’all start wondering, “Why didn’t she take the bus in the first place?” remember… I live in rural Oklahoma.  Bus stops are few and far between.  (As in: almost a mile from our house.)  But they sure are pretty.

And bear in mind, I haven’t hauled my half-century-old carcass up anything steeper than a recliner in a long time.

But I can tell my children, “When I was your age, I walked up hill both ways!”

And it’s worth the climb.

Bonus points for my new “fitness plan.”  Now I can eat toast whenever I want… “yummy, slathered in butter, “why wait for the weekend?” kind of toast.  Life is good.

Enjoying one hill at a time,

~ Kim

Dessert In A Hurry

Who doesn’t like an easy dessert?  Especially one that requires no oven time whatsoever?

The answer to both questions is No-Bake Cheesecake.  But, I have to warn you — it disappears in a hurry.

Look!  The crumbs are flying off the plate!

Going, going…

(Sorry — no “gone” photo…)  I’m trying to beat the deadline for this give away.

You can, too, if you’re quick about it!

No Bake Cheesecake

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

6 oz. Mascarpone cheese, softened

4 Tbsp. sugar, or to taste

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 can of fruit pie filling (your choice — I happened to have cherries)

1 graham cracker crust

Combine cheeses in a mixing bowl; beat until blended.  Add sugar and vanilla; mix well.  Carefully spoon into graham cracker crust.  Refrigerate 1 hour, or until firm.  Top with fruit before serving and there you have it! 

Enjoying life a slice at a time,

~ Kim

Granita Parfait

Nothing says cool on a hot summer day like a granita parfait.  With icy crystals of canteloupe and watermelon layered in a pretty glass, it’s a delight to behold and as refreshing as it looks.

(Chaise lawn chair and reading material optional.)

Granitas are a perfect way to extend summer’s bounty when you find yourself with more melon than you can consume.  A quick whirl in the food processor and a few hours (or overnight) in the freezer and it’s good to go.  The only utensils required are a fork to scrape the frozen fruit into ice-shaved happiness and a spoon to enjoy the results.

I don’t have an actual recipe (amounts are dependent upon the quantity of fruit you’re using), but here’s a basic “how to”:

Granita Parfait

Cubes of fresh melon (in this case, watermelon and canteloupe)

Sugar to taste, if desired (I didn’t)

Remove seeds and/or rind (if any) from melon cubes.  Pulse small separate batches in a food processor until liquified.  (Note to self:  Liquified fruit really gets to whirlin’ — fairly quickly, I might add!)  Be mindful of your food processor.

Transfer fruit liquid to a shallow glass pan or large plastic bowl; cover and freeze until firm.  When mixture is frozen, “scrape” the top with a fork until it yields an adequate amount of crystals for your serving needs.  (Note to self: Use a large enough bowl so you’ll be able to scrape it without flinging fruit crystals all over your kitchen counter…)

Store the “scraped granita crystals” in the freezer in separate (covered) containers until serving time.  Spoon into champagne flutes (layered as desired) and serve immediately.  And I do mean immediately…

Not only is this a refreshing treat, it’s a means to enjoy every last ounce of summer!

(Note:  When this post originally “aired,” I submitted it to a link-up that challenged folks to invent a summer dessert with 6 ingredients or less.  Here ’tis… Family Fresh Cooking.)

In the meantime, I’ve got to get back to my granita.

Aaahh… 

Enjoying life one frozen delight at a time,

~ Kim