Another Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Sometimes life can become so cluttered we don’t see the beauty in front of us — or we neglect to look for it.

(See that orange leaf on the left? A promise of more colorful days to come.)

After a recent 7″ inch rainfall and the ensuing runoff from the Canadian River, which feeds into the lake and deposits an assortment of driftwood and such onshore, this lone forerunner of Fall — a harbinger, if you will (love that word) — reminded me that my favorite Season is almost here. Yay!

Here’s another couple of looks courtesy of our neighbors’ yards.

Thanks for the peace, y’all!

Ahhhhh….

Then there’s the tree below. What an interesting life it must have led to leave such scars… wish I knew its story. I have plenty of scars of my own — we all do. Do tell! Someday I may even write about my own.

On the homefront, two trees in our front yard perished in the fire five years ago (going on six), but they’re such bird sanctuaries we haven’t had the heart to cut them down. (Mother Nature seems to take care of that one branch at a time.) Pictured below is a resting place for woodpeckers, warblers, chickadees, bluebirds, blue jays, cardinals, hummingbirds, thrashers — even turkey vultures — and more.

Wherever you are (in the big city or a rural retreat) notice the BEAUTY around you. Ignore any ongoing “clutter” and appreciate your life.

Most of all, “Keep On The Sunny Side.” If you’ve never listened to that song or read the lyrics, please click on the link above. Beauty and the promise of more colorful days ahead keep me goin’. Hope they do you, too, xo.

Enjoying an unexpectedly beautiful day in the neighborhood,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ September 2020

Hello, dear ones. I haven’t participated In My Kitchen for almost a year — not for lack of interest, but for lack of “new” things to show and tell. At this stage of the game I don’t need much, but every once in awhile I run across something interesting. Thank you to Sherry’s Pickings for another opportunity to join in the fun. If you have culinary interests — or if you’re curious — please click on her link above for a global tour of ingredients, storytelling, and delightful folks who love to cook. I discover something new every time I tune in.

In My Kitchen… is/was today’s repast: a Fried Egg Florentine with Crispy Shallots and Goat Cheese. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt inspired to fix something “fancy” for myself, but today was the day. (SO good…) Don’t neglect to nurture you.

In My Kitchen… is a new set of cookware. I wasn’t planning on replacing the old set, but I was frustrated by their strainer-style lids and pour-spout pan edges. A good seal is tantamount to great flavor. One day while I was watching a TV talk show (a rare occurrence) they featured a “deal of the day” — a set of professional-grade Cuisinart pans for a ridiculously low price. Who am I to argue with signs? Did I hit the order button immediately? Nope. I did a lot of research and read the reviews. Hundreds of them.

It’s funny what folks complain about. “Everything sticks.” (Heat up those induction-bottomed pans gradually.) “Too many spots.” (Ever tried a cotton dish towel?) “I only hand wash them.” (It’s doubtful professional chefs take the time — the pans are stainless steel and they clean up just fine in the dishwasher.) “Wish they had clear lids.” Seeing isn’t believing. Trust your instincts — or practice some more. Frankly, I was thrilled with their flat restauant-style lids. Long live the diner days…

Now if I only had more folks to cook for besides The Man Of Few Words ‘n’ me — hello, lake neighbors!

In My Kitchen… is a bottle of Jalapeno Honey. Not only is it great for glazing grilled chicken or pork chops, it also makes for a lovely salad dressing. A splash of white balsamic vinegar and EVOO followed by a drizzle of that golden nectar results in some mighty fine eatin’ without the fuss of making a vinaigrette. Heavenly indeed!

In My Kitchenare other “new” or rediscovered recipes: Kasbah Chicken Skewers (courtesy of Ally’s Kitchen cookbook), fresh-caught Gulf shrimp (before Hurricane Laura hit), and the Best Fluffy, Flakey, Buttery Biscuits Ever thanks to a previous IMK hostess, Maureen Shaw, who said “no need to acknowledge me for the recipe.” Thank you kindly, ma’am, but I like to give credit where it’s due.

Best Fluffy, Flakey, Buttery Biscuits Ever — thanks, Maureen!

(My recipe is for a half-batch; double and cut ’em into whatever shape suits you.)

1 cup all purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

1/4 cup (4 Tbsp.) cold butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes, plus extra to melt and brush on top before or after baking (see below)

1/3 cup milk

1-1/2 tsp. honey

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender until mixture is pea-sized.

Stir in milk and honey until dough comes together. (Don’t overmix.)

Dump onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times. (I just kneaded it in the bowl — no counters to clean)

Pat with your fingers to about 3/4-inch high. (I saved a step — and more counter cleaning — doing that on the parchment-lined sheet pan.)

Cut with a biscuit cutter, tin can, or glass, but don’t use a seesaw motion as the biscuits won’t be as high — or use a chef’s knife and cut into squares. Optionally, let them rest twenty minutes before baking or not. (I opted for the second option in both cases.)

Separate biscuits 2-inches apart, or 1-inch apart if you like softer edges. (I did and do.) Brush with melted butter if desired. (I waited until the end.)

Bake 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven to a cooling rack and brush tops with melted butter. Serve immediately or cool completely and freeze the rest. Bring on the sausage gravy or breakfast biscuits!

In My Kitchenthings are pretty much status quo since the last time I touched base (thank heavens) — making the most of what I have and whatever we’ve been blessed with — an integral part of IMK. I feel blessed to state that, considering hunger is a huge problem here and worldwide. Feed your family — yourself — and a few other folks while you’re at it. (Please contribute to your local food pantry, too.) Every lil’ bit helps.

Enjoying “new” blessings,

~ Kim

Friendships Renewed

Just tried to re-post a “blast from the past” since I don’t have anything new to report these days. (Blame it on Covid-19 and contentment.) I know WordPress offers a way to do that, but I haven’t figured out how yet. So, I’m teasing you with a photo of Old Boy (our Great Blue Heron) and hoping you’ll click on the following link to see what I’m up to. Some things never change, including ongoing friendships.

https://alittlelunch.com/2012/06/05/friendship-renewed-rhapsody-in-blue-iv/

If you’re feeling so inclined, please look up my other Rhapsody in Blue posts in the sidebar under “search.” Can’t believe it’s been that long since I wrote them, but Life On The Lake has stayed pretty much the same. Feeling blessed!

So, how are YOU doing during the pandemic? What are your greatest challenges so far? What’s been your greatest solace? (Please share.)

Other than cooking, cleaning, and keeping myself amused — reading is a HUGE plus — I’ve been hanging out and enjoying whatever God and Nature have to offer. How about you? Are you okay? I care about YOU!

Hoping this lil’ bit of PEACE was a bright spot in your day.

Enjoying solace — and friendship — at the lake,

~ Kim

It’s What’s For Dinner

It’s no secret I love living in Oklahoma, but did you know I’ve always wanted to be a chuckwagon cook?

Folks who feed the masses with cast iron pots and pans over a campfire (or on cookstoves like my grandmothers did) fascinate me — not only for their meticulous planning and timing, but for their dedication to quality food.

I doubt I’ll realize that dream now (being somewhat “old-er” and rather fond of my kitchen at the lake) but there’s one thing I emulate on a regular basis: quality food begins with quality ingredients.

Introducing McCutchen’s Cattle Call Ranch out of Checotah, Oklahoma. The name “Cattle Call” comes from a Country & Western song written by Tex Owens — made famous by Eddy Arnnold and many others — even Elvis.

You can’t go wrong with a name like that, or their beef. Locally processed and sold by whole, 1/2, or 1/4, their packages include steaks, roasts, short ribs, hamburger, and more. Ranch-raised with the utmost care, these folks put a lot of hard work into their product and it shows. Better yet, it tastes like it! (For ordering information, please email cattlecallranch@outlook.com)

Quick disclaimer: I don’t usually plug products here — it’s for FUN, not profit — but the Cattle Call Ranch gave me a package of ribeyes and hamburger to try, and what’s a wanna-be chuckwagon cook to do?

BEEF… it’s what’s for dinner. Break out your cast iron skillet and get ready to ring the dinner bell.

Enjoying some mighty fine vittles,

~ Kim

Butter Poached Walleye Almondine

They said there were walleye in our lake and we’ve tried every tactic known to man to catch one, to no avail.

Then one morning The Man Of Few Words ran up to the house as excited as a schoolboy passing his first love note.

In a way, it was.

“Kim! I caught a walleye!” (He knows it’s my favorite fish.)

I’ve watched him hurry up from shore to show me his latest large mouth bass from time to time, but that morning his demeanor was different. Proud, but humble. Excited, yet reverent. I love that about him.

I immediately started planning dinner.

Butter Poached Walleye Almondine

1 pkg. slivered almonds

4 Tbsp. clarified butter or ghee

Walleye fillets, rinsed and patted dry

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Lemon slices for garnish

Parsley for garnish (optional)

In a skillet over medium heat, toast almonds until fragrant and lightly browned. Watch closely and stir frequently so they don’t burn. Set aside on paper towels.

Melt butter or ghee in another skillet over medium heat. (I have induction skillets so I start them on low and increase the heat gradually.)

Add walleye fillets and saute’ 3 to 5 minutes depending on their thickness. As the underside cooks, tip skillet and spoon melted butter over top to “poach” the fillets. Flip them over and repeat poaching process.

Add toasted almonds around perimeter of skillet and give them a stir to coat with butter. Season with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

When the fillets flake easily with a fork, plate up and enjoy!

Enjoying lake lilfe,

~ Kim