Life In Small Bites

Sometimes the memory of a flavor is all it takes to rekindle a foodie’s enthusiasm.

Mushroom bouquet

One fine Autumn day as I wandered around our yard, I happened upon an unexpected “mushroom bouquet” and my first thought was food.

They immediately evoked memories of mushrooms past. Slowly simmered in a velvety red wine sauce laced with garlic. Stuffed mushrooms. Mushroom pate’. Manchego mushrooms.

So many possibilities!

Autumn treasures

Lately I’ve been living life in “small bites” — one tentative taste at a time — until I’m ready to jump in again.

Rediscovering flavor.

And that’s okay. Autumn is progressing nicely at the lake. Me, too. 

Loving life,

~ Kim

Arancini Adventures

Arancini (pronounced arrrr-un-cheeni — roll that “r” like a pirate!) are cheese-stuffed rice croquettes from Italy. A friend from In My Kitchen recently chronicled her escapades in the Mediterranean — thanks, Debi — including a photo of Arancini and I couldn’t resist their allure any longer. Game on!

Speaking of games, I love to play Scrabble. It was time to combine that old favorite with a potential new one, and after researching a few recipes I set out on my Arancini Adventures.

The first challenge was a lack of Mozzarella in our fridge, but I had a bag of Italian five-cheese blend left from an ‘Italian’ dish I’d made for The Man Of Few Words the other night. Out of necessity (and/or desperation) I squeezed that shredded cheese into stuffable-size “balls.” Not quite as authentic as Mozzarella cubes, but I’ve been known to do things the hard way.

The next obstacle was Italian bread crumbs. All I had in the pantry were plain, and gluten-free to boot. I wondered if they’d yield the golden, deep-fried results I hoped to achieve? FYI, folks in the South aren’t squeamish about dunking food in hot oil and there’s a first time for everything — plus, I’m blessed with low cholesterol. A sprinkle of garlic powder and a tablespoon of Italian seasoning transformed them into “Italian” bread crumbs in no time at all.

As for leftover rice, I keep it on hand in the fridge at all times. I could very happily live on beans and rice for the rest of my life! But, today’s stash was destined to become Arancini. However, there’s no need to go to as much trouble as I did; see the recipe below. 

Arancini

(recipe adapted from Just A Taste — grazie!)

1 cup cooked sticky white rice (Uncle Ben’s was specified; I used “plain white”)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 large eggs

4 cubes fresh Mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Italian-style bread crumbs

Oil for frying

Marinara sauce for dipping

  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan or deep fat fryer to 375 F.
  2. Meanwhile combine rice, Parmesan, and 1 egg. Use your hands to mix.
  3. Form the Arancini by squeezing 1/4 portion of the rice mixture around each Mozzarella cube.
  4. Whisk remaining egg in a bowl, dip the Arancini into it, then roll in Italian breadcrumbs. Shake off excess and set aside.
  5. When oil reaches 375 F, fry two Arancini at a time, turning frequently until golden brown.
  6. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining Arancini.
  7. Serve with warmed marinara sauce. (Or, a glass of Prosecco… heavenly!)

Loving appetizer adventures — authentic or not,

~ Kim

Chocolate Musings

Emergency Chocolate

Writing is chocolate for the soul.

I penned those words nearly ten years ago and I still abide by them.

(Hope you can zoom in on the instructions on my Emergency stash — now an empty box — but hey, some things are worth keeping, including decade old words.)

Lakegirl mug

Now that I’m officially a Lakegirl (woohoo!) I’ve had time to reflect on life and how I’m living it.

Make every day count. Do what makes you happy!

But, serve others with JOY — even if it’s via a random post — or chocolate. ;)

Enjoying LIFE at the lake,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ August 2018

Oklahoma rocks

Greetings from Oklahoma, at long last. It’s been awhile since I’ve played in this forum and I’m tickled to be here. I’m also looking forward to catching up with you!

In My Kitchen… I’m celebrating the continuity of daily life. Simple things like setting up the coffeemaker for The Man of Few Words’ 4:15 a.m. wake-up call or planning meals for his return at the end of the day bring me profound JOY. Some may consider that mundane, but I’m reveling in the “routine-ness” of it all after being at the mercy of my phone for the past five years and/or living out of a suitcase for months on end. I’m finally home.

Canister set

In My Kitchen… a few essentials found their way into my repertoire, such as this stainless steel canister set — another thrift store bargain — brand new in the box! Previously I would’ve filled them with flour and sugar, etc., but these are destined to store rice: arborio, basmati, brown, and jasmine. (I keep my coveted wild rice stash in the freezer to preserve its “nuttiness.” You can take the girl out of Minnesota, lol…)

I also invested in a lethal-looking vegetable cleaver in hopes of bringing my knife skills up to “chef speed” someday, but right now preserving my piano playin’ fingers is a higher priority. I love looking at it though. Gorgeous! (Michael Symon, please help?)

In My Kitchen… healthy food is also a priority. I came home packing extra pounds (argh) and I’m determined to shed them a.s.a.p! Thank goodness for the generous gardeners willing to share their produce. Next year I hope to be among the givers instead of receivers, but I’m grateful for the thoughtful folks who do. (Thanks, Rosie!) In the meantime, I enjoyed every bite of this Tuna Salad Stuffed Tomato.

Tuna Salad Stuffed Tomato.JPG

Earlier on FB (during an infrequent attempt to let y’all know I was still alive & kickin’) I mentioned my “Crunchy Chicken Salad.” I promise to post that recipe soon! This was just your basic tuna, mayo, celery, and onion concoction — but oh, soooo good in a homegrown red ripe tomato.

Butterfly butter dish_01.JPG

In My Kitchen… is this beautiful butterfly butter dish — a surprise gift from my son. Tom drove me home from Minnesota and stayed for a few weeks, during which time we attended a grand opening of a friend’s store. (Sparkle & Rust in Stigler, Oklahoma — YAY, Cyanne!) What a delightful venue. I’ll be back…

Speaking of being back, I’m thrilled to be In My Kitchen again, in more ways than one. Many thanks to Sherry’s Pickings for hostessing this world-wide roundup. Always a pleasure to join you, my dear! If you’d like to see more or post your own adventures, please click on the link above.

Enjoying being home and being “me”,

~ Kim

My Ideal Day II

Boy Bouquet

It’s been nearly six years since I posted “My Ideal Day” (for a glimpse of my former frolics click here) — maybe because every day has been close to ideal? Not that life has been all fun and games since then, but I’ve done my best to prevail with a SMILE. Do what makes you happy. Pictured above is the “Boy Bouquet” I gave my beloved. :)

A kiss good morning and a cup of coffee are all I need to ignite my day. 

Make that three kisses. That’s been our tradition ever since TMOFW & I got married 17 years ago and the same applies to “goodbye.” Establish your comfort level for affection early on and don’t settle for less. Take care of yourself!

I’ve been doing just that since I arrived home again after two weeks in Minnesota. (Thank you all for your condolences.) The other night I made “Giada’s” Asparagus & Tomato Fritatta; the next day it was a wilted Chef’s Salad ala “moi.” Healthy eatin’, one day at a time.

I’m grateful for such a peaceful place to regroup, too. Every time I look out our front door, I smile. Ahhh…

Deck sitting has been mandatory. View Out Our Front Door

Getting back to my recent Ideal Day… it involved time to write, think, coffee, and a glass of wine or two.

(And a cute sun dress.)

I also promised TMOFW that I wouldn’t pluck his two prized early blooming beauties below to make Fried Green Tomatoes. :) Patience…TMOFW's tomato plants

Life’s been good at the lake lately.

Actually, it’s been dang near ideal every day. (Thank you, God!)

Enjoying re-booting once again,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ May 2018

I’ve spent most of my life cooking for the folks I love, but these past five years have included an additional blessing: treasured friends from around the world witnessing my culinary antics. I revel in theirs, too! Thank you Sherry (Sherry’s Pickings) for continuing to hostess “In My Kitchen.” To see more global goodies or to add your own, please click on her link.

In My Kitchen… is an “official” quiche pan. Previously I made it a pie plate, so when this beauty appeared at the thrift store I snapped it up. Real quiche at last! (Please pardon the uneven nutmeg distribution on top; the grater I ordered was en route and I got a little heavy-handed with sprinkling. :) The crackers, baguette, and party goods are for future appetizers and impromptu serving.

In My Kitchen… are an industrial-sized Crock Pot, a Cuispro olive oil spritzer, and the cutest lil’ mini bakers for warm dips and such. (My new Microplane nutmeg grater, too!) It’s been a process deciding what to replace or live without since my serving pieces and kitchen gadgets disappeared a few years back, but it’s been fun “personalizing” my kitchen again. You might even say I earned it…

Winte bottle stopper

Meanwhile, I’m almost done painting my office. IMK headquarters! The “flowers” that besieged my eyeballs all these years will be gone. YAY!

Painting in progressAfter that, the only posies left blessing my surroundings will be these:

Okie posies

Enjoying an entertaining life in Oklahoma,

~ Kim

Friends

Court Bouillon

The Court Bouillon pictured above was a mix of several recipes and what I had on hand. Thank you, Alton Brown, Epicurious, and Genius Kitchen! Revisiting a recipe (and variations thereof) is a lot like visiting with old and new friends. Everyone contributes to the conversation with flavorful, memorable results.

My goal — besides feeding myself — was to use up some of the fish in our freezer. Thanks to TMOFW’s prowess with a fishing rod and patience with our fickle lake, the poached bass fillet that resulted was near nirvana. (Sorry, no photo.) As Forrest Gump once quipped: “You never know what you’re gonna get.”

The same applies to thrift store treasures.

Old friends

I arrived at The Mission yesterday intent on serving others and ended up coming home blessed with two “old friends.” I love it when the Universe smiles!

This stainless steel skillet features a copper clad bottom (also not pictured, nor its handle, ha!) and it was a favorite saute’ pan in my previous life. Diminutive in size — 7″ or so — it delivered BIG flavor in small batches and clean up was a breeze. What a JOY to rekindle an old friendship.

The cake stand behind it was another “find.” I don’t bake very often these days due to my allergies (dang it!), but when I do I like to present my oven lovin’ with a lil’ flair.  Serving pieces are like a spectacular pair of earrings adorning an outfit. Go for the BLING! Speaking of which…

Hummer feeder

Our hummingbirds are due back soon and our weather-worn, faded plastic feeder was in sore need of replacing. Bling! I call our new one “The Jewel of the Lake.” :)

Do what makes you happy.

Last, but not least…

New friends and old continue to make my world go ’round. I love you all!

Enjoying treasures,

~ Kim