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

Life Is Like A Box of Chocolate Covered Cherries

Chocolate covered cherries close up

Forrest Gump’s mama once advised him that life was like a box of chocolates.  “You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Personally, I like knowing what I’m going to get as far as chocolate is concerned.  Those “maps” tucked into the cover of the box have been known to be wrong from time to time.  (Ever happen to you?)

When my taste buds crave almond toffee caramel, then, by gum, there’d better be an almond toffee caramel in that chocolate-coated morsel!  (None of that “wish I hadn’t taken a bite” regret for this girl, followed by a covert attempt to politely dispose of a half-eaten mystery object… ahem.)

I do have to admit though, there’s a certain amount of satisfaction (aka guilty pleasure) in sampling your way through an entire box of “uncharted chocolates.”

Never mind…

Maybe that’s why I like chocolate covered cherries so much.

You always know what you’re gonna get!

Chocolate covered cherries retouch phase

(For the recipe, please see Veronica’s Cornucopia.)

Thanks, Veronica!

Chocolate covered cherries front and center

As for life?  It’s still “predictably” unpredictable… which is exactly what I expected.  Some days are the same ol’, same ol’ (but sweet, nonetheless), while other days are like biting into the unknown.

Just don’t mess with my box of chocolates!

Enjoying chocolate-covered musings,

~ Kimby

P.S.  This is my “official” Valentine’s Day post.  I’ll be off the grid for the next week (or two) as I absorb the wonder of a songwriting class I signed up for (beginning March 1st) and tickle the ivories at the Oklahoma State Fiddler’s Convention. :)  Stay tuned…literally!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

Jam Session Parfait (My Guest Post with Chef Dennis)

Happy Friday, everybody!  Actually, it is a happy Friday… Chef Dennis invited me to do a guest post!  Words like honored, thrilled, and humbled come to mind…

Who is Chef Dennis, you may ask?  If you haven’t met this gentleman whose advice is well-respected and whose recipes are very much anticipated, please click here.  Chef Dennis has a “pull up a chair and let’s visit” personality and it’s a delight spending time with him!

Then head over to my guest post on A Culinary Journey with Chef Dennisfeaturing Jam Session Parfait… plus a few adventures. ;)

(Kindly leave a “howdy do” in the comment section to let him know you’re visiting from a little lunch.  Thanks!)

Your thoughts represent freedom of expression and I treasure that — and you — greatly.  Have a safe and memorable 4th of July!

Enjoying kindness and freedom,

~ Kim

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In The Middle Of Things (Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches)

It’s not unusual to find me in the middle of things; I’ve been that way my entire life.  But as time marches on, some things become more important than others.

Recently, I began feeling the pull of my multi-faceted interests — a battle between the “want-to’s” and the “have-to’s” — and frankly, the have-to’s were winning.  Time to regroup.

After some serious soul searching (and budget crunching), my heart decided I needed to be HOME to make the best use of my God-given talents.  The Man Of Few Words agreed, I gave notice at work, and the transition began.  And guess what?

I’m still in the middle of things!

(Somehow I suspect I always will be, but the want-to’s and have-to’s are only a month or so away from marching together — from home, sweet home.  Hooray!)

The occasion called for something capricious to celebrate dreams in the making… homemade ice cream!  The only problem was… we don’t have an ice cream maker.

Not one to be daunted by minor details, I set out to make Isabelle At Home‘s luscious ricotta ice cream.  (Thanks, Isabelle!)  Technical difficulties aside, I plunked the mixture into a Ziploc-bag, threw it in the freezer, and smooshed it by hand every 30 minutes until it was “ice cream-y” consistency. (Bear in mind, I left out the chocolate chips… between smooshing I made cookies.) :)

Although the resulting “ice cream” tasted wonderful, it was a tad unscoop-able (due to the lack of churning.)  I pondered the dilemma with a cookie in hand.  Hmmm…

Why not make ice cream sandwiches?!

After softening the ice cream a bit, I spooned it onto sheets of plastic wrap, rolled them into tidy rolls (ala the compound butter maneuver), and threw them back in the freezer.  Then the process began…

Slice… slide… SAMMICH!

There are some merits to being in the middle of things.

Enjoying sweet victory,

~ Kim

A Little Bit of Love and Joy

There’s merriment in the air.  Can you feel it?!

My friend, Christy (from Critty Joy) offered a fun challenge this week for her final Christmas Party Friday“Complete the sentences…”

Like decorations tucked here and there around the house, they prompt joy!

My favorite part of December is… going outside on the first cold, clear night (with a gazillion stars in the sky so close you can touch them) and breathing in “winter.”  The seasons don’t change as drastically here in Oklahoma, so I make it a point every year to stand under a starry, sparkling sky and inhale a breath of pure, brisk air.  Ahhhh…

The Christmas song I can listen to over and over is… “Stille, Stille Nacht.”  There are many, many songs to celebrate the season — cherished old hymns, delightful holiday tunes, songs about love and family — but Stille, Stille Nacht reminds me to be still.  (Something I need to be reminded of more often!)

My favorite Christmas gift when I was a child was… a Slinky.  That “sound” — soft, shimmery, metallic — was like holding starlight in my hands.

If traveling anywhere in the world were an option, I would spend Christmas… in Iceland.  (Via Minnesota and New Hampshire first — my family is used to my galavanting by now, but we still miss each other, especially during the holidays.)  Iceland is a land of contrasts — volcanoes and glaciers, geothermic-heated swimming pools and eiderdown quilts, cold seafood buffets (that make me drool just thinking about them) served by warm-hearted people — invigorating!

Christmas movies are… sappy, syrupy, predictable… and I watch every one of them.

My “must have” Christmas treats include… Egg nog.  And Penuche.

Decorating for the season looks like… a chore when I start and a joy when I’m done!

When it comes to Christmas gifts I prefer to… use more Scotch tape than necessary.  (The element of suspense adds so much to opening gifts, don’t you think?) 

The Christmas season makes me feel… nostolgic, thankful, and hopeful.  In my heart, I carry memories of Christmas past, gratitude for this season, and anticipaton of Christmases to come.  (Sort of a Dickens-style complex, but I can’t help it.)

To me, Christmas means… an opportunity to dispense JOY!!!  I love looking for ways to give it and invite you to share your own.  (Use the links above or leave a comment below.)  JOY is something the world needs more of and I’m eager to hear how you celebrate love, faith, and family this special time of year.

Sometimes it comes in small bites…

Penuche is a “once-a-year-candy” that I look forward to indulging in — immediately followed by a cold glass of milk or a hot cup of coffee.  (Contrast is my middle name.)  Also known as Brown Sugar Fudge, it’s nothing like it’s creamier, chocolate cousin — grainy, super sweet, like maple sugar candy (minus the maple.)

Grandma produced a plateful of it every Christmas and the holidays wouldn’t be the same without it.  Here’s her recipe:

This season — every day — I hope you’ll look for opportunities to share love and JOY!

Merry Christmas!

~ Kim

A Charlie Brown(ie) Christmas

Every year around this time, I dig through my small, but cherished collection of CD’s and pull out one that makes me happy just looking at it.

For those of you unfamiliar with this cartoon character, he's the one on the left.

Sometimes I even do the happy dance. :)

Charlie Brown is a man after my own heart — optimistic in spite of the odds, always hoping for the best.  Even when the needles fall off his spindly Christmas tree year after year (via the wonder of re-runs), his spirit remains undaunted.  I like that.

I also like brownies.

Yup, that would be me in the all-seeing silver bulb...

These brownies make me happy looking at them, too.  Better yet, eating them.  I’ve made them year after year (over 30 years’ worth of re-runs) and, just like Charlie Brown, they’ve withstood the test of time.

Unlike my “tree”…

The tree AND brownies eventually took a tumble.

But… my spirit remained undaunted.

Charlie Brown(ies)

1 stick of butter (plus a little extra, to butter the baking pan)

2 squares (2 oz. total) unsweetened chocolate

1 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs, at room temperature

1/4 c. flour

1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 325° F.  Butter a 9″ x 9″ glass baking pan; set aside.

Get out a heavy saucepan, a wooden spoon, and a spatula.  (These are the only utensils you’ll need; consider it an early gift.) :)

Melt butter over low heat in the saucepan.  When butter is almost melted, add the chocolate.  Stir with a wooden spoon until chocolate is melted; remove from heat.

Add sugar; mix well.  Cool mixture for several minutes.  (You don’t want your eggs to cook when you add them.)  Add vanilla and eggs; mix vigorously until combined.

Add flour and salt; mix until flour is incorporated.  Using a spatula, scrape the batter into the buttered baking pan.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean.  They’ll look fairly “wet” but please do not overbake — they’ll settle down if you will.

Cool on a wire rack until you can no longer resist eating them.

Do the happy dance!

Enjoying the simple joys of the season,

~ Kim

Autumn Is Afoot (Apples & Walnuts with Cinnamon Caramel Sauce)

I like the word “afoot.”

On foot.

     In action.

          In progress.

Autumn wasn’t meant to be experienced indoors.  It requires participation…

With apples and camera in hand, I went exploring.

Where to take the picture?  Hmm….

                                                                                                                                                                                  (Disregard the photographer in the spoon…)

While I debate this dilemma, allow me to share the recipe.

Apples & Walnuts With Cinnamon Caramel Sauce

1 tart apple (per person), cored and sliced

1/4 c. toasted walnuts (per person)

Cinnamon Caramel Sauce:

4 T. butter

1/2 c. brown sugar

2 T. milk

1/2 t. vanilla

1/2 t. cinnamon

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Stir in brown sugar, milk, vanilla and cinnamon.  Increase heat slightly and bring mixture to a boil.  Cook and stir until “caramelly” consistency.  (I like my sauce thinner; use your judgement.)  Cool slightly and drizzle over apples and walnuts.  Enjoy!

As to where to take that final shot…

It’s Autumn!

Now go outside and play.

Enjoying all things afoot,

~ Kim