The Mad Dash ~ Smoked Salmon Canapes

Smoked Salmon

When I was a kid, one of my favorite games was Musical Chairs.

(Remember that one?)

There was something thrilling about circling those chairs — minus one — while trying to appear calm & in control, one ear tuned to perceive the slightest pause in the music. (The other was listening for covert plans by my circle-mates; elbowing and edging-out were entirely acceptable.) My eyes were constantly riveted on the passing prospects for my imminent future… a familiar tale.

Then, there was the inevitable mad dash. The scrambling and the squealing — the flailing of arms and legs (with more than a few nudges) — as everybody tried to find their place in this world, at least temporarily.

Minus one…

(I don’t recall if I was a winner or loser at musical chairs or not.)

More than likely I had a distinct advantage with my finely tuned auditory nerves. (Big fan of the Bionic Woman in later years!) My latent memory is rather fuzzy when it comes to traumatic childhood events masquerading under the guise of games.

Conclusion?

Shuffling between chairs (and piano benches) seems to be my lot in life.

I hadn’t really given much thought to that from a posterior perspective… in fact, this is the first time it even occurred to me. But (no pun intended), wherever I’m ‘parked’ is pretty much what I’m doing at any given moment.

At least it’s less random…

And I get to pick the music. ;)

My concert is finally behind me (no pun…) and I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief. Much as I love performing, rehearsals were taking a big bite out of my… time.

You don’t just whip off excerpts from Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique or Debussy’s Clair de Lune or Schumann’s Concerto in A Minor (among others) without a lil’ preparation — or at least I don’t.

I’m tickled to report though that it was a resounding success. Fun, too!

I added a lighthearted segment at the end including such favorites as “Moon River,” “Over The Rainbow,” “Besame Mucho” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” — which seems to be my theme song these days. Ahem…

All in all, enough funds were raised to send ten teenagers to camp this summer (hallelujah!) and in appreciation, they presented me with this:

(Ain’t it gorgeous?)

Thank You Bouquet

And… notice any resemblance to this?

Smoked Salmon 2

Smoked Salmon & Lemon Pepper Avocado Creme Canapes

4 oz. smoked salmon, flaked
Crackers of your choice (I used Glutino gluten-free multi-grain crackers)
1 ripe avocado
Juice of half a lemon
2 T. butter, softened
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pink Himalayan salt (or sea salt), to taste
Fresh thyme for garnish

Peel & seed the avocado; mash pulp in a small bowl. Add lemon juice and mix thoroughly to prevent discoloration. Stir in butter, pepper, and salt until creamy.

Place a dab of Lemon Butter Avocado Creme on each cracker. Top with smoked salmon and garnish with thyme. Easy, peasy!

(Believe me, I was ready for a lil’ “easy peasy” at this point!)

Life and fabulous food always have a way of coming around…

Like musical chairs.

Enjoying the mad dash,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

In My Kitchen ~ May 2014

Baby Basil

In my kitchen… a garden is trying to grow. Allow me to rephrase that: I’m trying to grow a garden!

Since I’m not a green thumb by any stretch of the imagination (and I seriously underestimate the time it takes from planting to plate), I went to the local “feed & seed” store to get some plants that were a little further along in the nurturing process. Then the outside temperature dropped 60 degrees and I was forced to keep them alive indoors.

Group hug?

Whatever Works

Once the weather warmed up again, everybody got their own special place on the “picnic table garden”…

Picnic Table Garden 1

… mostly because the actual garden was in sore need of weeding, pruning, and everything else I meant to do before I bought the plants.

Mission accomplished!

Back Porch Baskets

In my kitchen (or close to it)… these obviously not homegrown herbs are nestled contentedly in their hanging baskets. They also seem to put up with frequent leaf stealing and dinner tastes all the better for it.

Coconutty

In my kitchen… are coconut sugar and coconut flour — my latest gluten-free “experimental” ingredients. I love coconut, therefore it stands to reason that I’ll love these, yes? (Or am I just nutty?)

Two Degrees Food cherry almond bars

In my kitchen… is my new favorite snack. Not only are these Cherry Almond Bars delicious, they’re benevolent. I like that in a snack.

Musical Flowers

In my kitchen… is a musical bouquet that’s been cheering me on as I do the final rehearsals for my concert tomorrow. They wish you a melodic Happy Mother’s Day!

Whatcha Cooking

In my kitchen… is one of the irises from my last post — and a curious one at that. Looks like it’s asking, “What’cha cookin’?” (Or what’s in your kitchen?!)

This world-wide hodgepodge of kitchen goodies is hostessed by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial — and it keeps growing!

(At least something is.)

Enjoying trying…

~ Kim

© 2011-2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Flowergram VIII

Dogwood blossoms

(Hover over the photos for the full effect…)

Spring is in full bloom and it’s time for another Flowergram!

(Can’t tell you how good it felt to wander about at will again, ahhhhh…)

I feel like I’ve been playing catch up here forever and a day, but the truth is: there’s no catching up with right now. You’re either in it or you’re not.

Lavender

Lately I’ve been re-prioritizing things, or at least re-scheduling them. Sometimes my creative soul doesn’t want to be confined to a time slot, but it’s necessary for me to discern measurable progress. (Plus I don’t get a dang thing done — or at least the important ones — if I don’t!)

That means making time for regular exercise (did I just admit that in public?!!), enjoying the beauty & benefits of “small plates” (more on that in an upcoming post), getting back to writing on a regular schedule, and practicing the piano like I just got booked at Carnegie Hall! I’m giving another concert in less than a week, I had a dual speaking & musical engagement yesterday, and life has been an all around profusion of activity.

Last month, The Man of Few Word’s son (my step-son) moved in with us temporarily, and with two fellas needing to get to work at different times and places (with one vehicle), guess who’s been designated taxi driver? I run TMOFW to work at 5:30 a.m. (10 mile round trip), take my step-son to work at 7:30 a.m. (20 mile round trip), pick up TMOFW between noon and 4:00 (such fun not knowing “for sure” what time) and, as things turned out last week, had to make the final pick-up of the day at 4:00 (four days in a row) to get my step-son, too. (Whew!) Thankfully, all of that will change soon (if Mama ain’t happy… tee hee!) and normal life will resume shortly.

Please.

Speaking of “profusions”… here’s one of my favorites:

As for the writing part, I’m thrilled beyond words to have an official part-time, work-at-home job as an editorial assistant/copywriter on a BIG project. (Details are confidential as of yet, but I’m doin’ the happy dance!)

If a picture could describe my elation, it would be this “homegrown” contribution to my Flowergram…

Color me tickled pink — with a lil’ bit of purple for fun. ;)

Flowerbox

How will you spend the hours you’ve been given today… backtracking or living?

It’s a delicate balance sometimes, and as fragile and fleeting as Spring blossoms.

Never be “too busy” to do the things that make you happy!

Dogwood Tree

Enjoying re-prioritizing,

~ Kim

© 2011-2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Kaleidoscope Cooking

Kaleidoscope

Did you ever play with a kaleidoscope as a kid (or as a grown-up…) and marvel at the changing colors? I seem to have latched onto that multi-hued fascination without realizing it until now.

Some nights dinner consists of a subdued (albeit tasty) palette, followed by a several-night streak of blast your eyeballs, popping off the plate color.

(Twist… click; twist… click.)

It finally dawned on me that I’m a kaleidoscope cook.

When I was a young ‘un, I used to dig through Grandma’s toy box in search of that cardboard tube with the plastic lens. Then I’d carry it to the nearest window and rotate the cylinder to my heart’s content. (The Man of Few Words still asserts that I’m easily entertained…)

Somehow that toy ended up in my recipe box, and I’m glad it did.

Whether mind-blowing or bordering on blasé, food (and colors) bring me great delight, and a childlike mindset keeps things interesting on our plates.

Now go… play with your food!

Enjoying kaleidoscopic cooking,

~ Kim

© 2011-2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Cheesy Potato & Rosemary Galette

Potato Galette

Two year olds are a wonder to behold.

Recently I spent five days in ‘Grandma mode’ marveling as our lil’ grandson zoomed about, climbed, danced (me, too!), made faces, sang songs, jumped, stomped, and figured out more settings on my digital piano than I knew it had.

Between fielding full body hugs (as only a two year old can give) and answering “What’s that?” (as only a two year old can ask), I couldn’t help but think we should all live life with so much intensity and curiosity.

I also took more naps than usual. ;)

After he and his lovely Mama and proud Papa headed home, the house seemed quiet. Too quiet. So did my brain. Since words weren’t readily forthcoming, I decided to poke around in my “idea file.”

When was the last time you looked through your drafts? I mean really looked? I tend to squirrel away recipes and ideas until later. Much later. (This one was from 2012!) Gotta love two year olds…

Earlier I’d published a post extolling the virtues of galettes, and judging by the searches it continues to generate, folks are intrigued by these flavorful layered beauties. (One bite transports me to a French country farmhouse, too.)

Then my friends at Cooks & Books & Recipes featured a potato galette and I knew I had to make it. Spuds in any way, shape, or form are a favorite, but the prospect of thinly sliced potatoes laced with fresh rosemary and cheese intrigued me.

The challenge, however, was to slice ‘em without a mandolin. Mandoline?

Whatever works.

Without a Mandolin

Not too shabby for slicing by hand!

Cheesy Potato & Rosemary Galette

(adapted from this recipe)

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan & drizzling

6 medium Russet potatoes, unpeeled

2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped (reserve some for top)

1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for sprinkling

1 c. shredded ColbyJack cheese, plus a handful for the top

Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375° F. Brush the bottom and sides of a spring form pan with oil; place on a baking sheet and set aside.

Thinly slice the potatoes with a mandolin — or a sharp knife and a lil’ patience. :) Place slices in a large bowl; toss with olive oil and rosemary.

Assemble the galette by forming a ring of potato slices around the edge of the spring form pan. Then cover the bottom, overlapping the slices. Season with salt & pepper and sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheeses.

Continue layering twice more — potatoes, S & P, and cheeses. Finish with a final layer of potatoes. (If you end up with extra, reserve for another use.) Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and additional rosemary and Parmesan.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes until the potatoes are tender and edges are golden brown. If your heart desires (mine did) sprinkle a handful of ColbyJack on top; return to oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Run a sharp knife around the inside of the spring form pan before removing the ring. Gently loosen the galette from the base (aided and abetted by a lil’ coaxing with a spatula) and transfer to a serving platter. Slice into wedges and have at it!

Forgot to mention those crispy edges! Ahhhh...

Crispy edges…mmmmmm

Some ideas are worth revisiting… and some visits become etched in our hearts.

Enjoying the wonder of two year olds,

~ Kim

© 2011-2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

In My Kitchen ~ April 2014

Olive Boat

In my kitchen is this lovely porcelain olive boat — a birthday gift from my Sis last month, xo. Its dainty size is perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up, and its delicate hand-painted motif has graced our dinner table frequently.

I love serving pieces with personality, don’t you? I also enjoy ‘plating’ food even if it’s just for a snack… and you know how I feel about olives. ;)

In my kitchen is — was — this chocolate cake.

BD Cake close up

It was everything I’d hoped for: chocolate-y, hazelnut-y, heavenly! But, silly me… I halved the cake recipe and made a full batch of the ganache! (Subliminal thinking?) The double-thick topping tasted like two-desserts-in-one with toasted hazelnut meal dusted around the edges. It was supposed to have fresh strawberries for a garnish, ahem… just another excuse to make it again. (Not that I need an excuse!)

In my kitchen is the first impromptu bouquet of the season.

Flowergram 1

What do you call small bouquets? Size-wise I think this one qualifies as a nosegay or a tussie-mussie. (Such delightful terms!) Grape hyacinths are sprouting all over the yard and our rosemary bush surprised me by bursting into bloom, too — couldn’t resist bringing a lil’ Spring indoors.

Pretty flowers (and pretty food) make me happy!

For fun glimpses of kitchens around the world or to add your own, please visit our lovely hostess Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. I look forward to it every month!

Enjoying spontaneity inside and out,

~ Kim

© 2011-2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

My Third Annual State of the Blog Address

Moon Set

Like the colors that subtly usher in each season, this post always sneaks up on me. One minute it’s March of last year and the next it’s March right now. (Almost April!) Has it really been twelve months?

Recap-wise, my year could be summed up in five words:

In transit or in transition.

I spent a lot of time away from the lake. On the road or in the air… leaving and returning… packing and unpacking… settling in again. (Necessarily so.)

With each successive journey, I felt like the shoreline moved farther away and close friends became tentative ones — not on purpose, but because that’s the way it is. Aren’t we always making adjustments? Part of being a grown-up is realizing that nothing ever stays the same, no matter how much we want it to.

Life. Relationships. Food…

One of the challenges I faced last year was getting it through my thick skull that no, you can’t eat gluten unless you want to suffer for an untold number of days. Old habits die hard, but you can teach an old dog new tricks — and I kinda favor positive thinking. While it’s not my intent to become a gluten-free blogger (and I’m greatly indebted to those who are) there’s been a radical shift in my cooking, grocery shopping, and eating. I probably won’t bring it up again… ’nuff said.

This year’s advice? Listen to your body.

Speaking of canines… one of the reasons I haven’t shared more photos (or posts) in recent months was because I was attacked by a stray dog. While I was out snapping pictures one day, Cujo decided to assert his Alpha male-ness. Thankfully I was wearing cowboy boots and my favorite Levi’s, and my Jeep was ten steps away, so the chunk he attempted to take out of my leg was foiled. I ended up with fang mark bruises on my calf for a week though… ouch.

Normally I’m a carefree and trusting soul (and I love dogs), but it never occurred to me that I could be in danger while I was out appreciating Nature through my lens. I’ve become accustomed to lizards and scorpions and snakes (oh my!), but stray dogs not so much — especially when they’re almost as tall as me. That incident shook me to the core and forced me to take refuge until Animal Control apprehended the random offender. To date, I’ve only told a few close friends (including the lake), but I’m feeling much braver now… and I carry a big stick.

Home, Sweet Home… or prison?

Another thing that influenced my writing (or lack of it) was an overwhelming feeling of being ‘housebound’ for most of the winter. Following yet another snafu with TMOFW’s ancient pickup — and despite his best efforts to fix it — he finally took it to a shop. “Nope. Ain’t gonna happen. Best bet is to haul it to a junkyard and scrap it out for parts.” That meant my Jeep went into full-time service as the hubby’s work vehicle, and yours truly has been wheel-less. (Been there, done that.) However, public transportation wasn’t an option this time with Cujo roaming about.

So, I’ve stayed home. And home. And home…

After awhile I didn’t feel like going anywhere or writing anything — nor did I have anything to write about. Mild case of agoraphobia or depression? Your guess is as good as mine. Whatever it was, I was a mess. (I love Southern euphemisms.)

Thankfully my friend (the lake) started kicking up its heels about the time I was ready to hit bottom. (I may write about it someday — or not.) Although I’m no stranger to pain, I’m also mindful of yours.

We can only take so much at one time.

Wild & Windy

Here’s to colors, cohorts, and confidence…

In case you missed my first and second annual musings, they’re here and here. And though this stretch has been a bit tumultuous, life is still good at the lake.

Heartfelt gratitude to you for reading and commenting on a little lunch. I appreciate it more than you know… xo.

Enjoying Spring on the horizon at last,

~ Kim

© 2011-2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch.