The Simple Life and a Simple Stir Fry

Since January 2018, I’ve had to put my pursuit of flavor aside due to events beyond my control. Recently though I had a hankering for “meat and veggies.” (Vegetarian friends, please look away!) Beef, bacon, broccoli, and brown rice sounded good.

While that concoction doesn’t look like much (thanks to a rainy spell and Oklahoma’s fickle photographic conditions) it tasted SO good, The Man Of Few Words had seconds and I ate the rest. :)

Truthfully it’s been a tough year. At one point I thought about deep-sixing blogging, but that would’ve meant giving up sharing sporadic inspirations with you. My heart just couldn’t accommodate that. Plus I have a story or two left to tell — and I love reading YOURS! Bonus points for yummy recipes.

In the meantime, I’ve found a new outlet for my dormant culinary dreams. Once a week some of my newfound friends and I gather to have a glass of good wine and “munchies.” How could I not cook for them?! They bring the wine and I bring the FOOD! (It was the least I could do to show my appreciation.)

Tonight’s impromptu repast consisted of marinated mushrooms, garlic & herb roasted baby Yukon potatoes, and kalamata olives. Simple fare. Speaking of which, I’m smack dab in the middle of a much simpler life. After I turned 60 (gasp!) I realized that I’ve entered my last go-round on this planet. Every day and every flavor counts. I intend to make the most of them and share my flavor innovations with my friends. (TMOFW, too!) I even brought home an exercise bike yesterday. Yikes…

Getting back to that stir-fry, it was basically a half-pound of bacon cut into “lardons” and sauteed until crisp (drained on paper towels); a pound of 80/20 ground chuck browned with chopped onions and minced garlic (added at the last minute) in the bacon drippings and a “steamer bag” of broccoli nuked in the microwave. (Ordinarily I’d steam a fresh head of broccoli, but time was of the essence.) Then I added previously cooked brown rice seasoned with Himalayan sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Easy peasy!

Here’s a close up:

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The simplest pleasures in life — the simple life — are best.  Live yours and don’t look back. But please continue to share your recipes. :)

Enjoying a scaled back perspective and GOOD FOOD,

~ Kim

Sushi Break

 

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(Sushi & Saki photographed by my son)

Some folks love Sushi and others can’t stand the thought of it. How do you feel?

I was skeptical at first.

In The Land of Ten Thousand Lakes where I grew up (Minnesota), the “catch of the day” was generally fried in butter with a mound of sliced potatoes (sizzling in butter) served with toast on the side (slathered in butter.) Goodness, I miss lake breakfasts! (And butter.)

Maybe it’s the buttery texture of Sushi that I love? I haven’t tried making it at home yet — and I don’t recommend that you do — unless you have top-grade fresh fish, razor sharp knives, and your kitchen is as antiseptic as a surgical suite. Sushi is not only an art, it’s a matter of strictest hygiene. I admire well-trained chefs who inspire confidence in both.

My first taste of that delicacy was at a sales convention in Baltimore many moons ago. I wanted to appear hip with my “foodie notions” — plus, I really wanted to try it! It was love at first bite.

Ironically, my son & I never did get to take a Sushi break on my last trip home. We had bigger fish to fry — so to speak. :) More on that in a subsequent post.

 

In the meantime, I enjoy making and eating “wanna be” Sushi-style seafood. The fresher, the better. Gotta love the fishermen in my life. :)

I still love every bite.

Wishing you a flavorful summer. Try somethin’ new! And, let me know your thoughts on Sushi.

Enjoying buttery recollections,

~ Kim

Life vs. Art (or vice versa)

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Aristotle, Plato, Coleridge, and Freud (et al.) theorized that art imitates life. (Mimesis.) In contrast, Oscar Wilde asserted that life imitates art. (Anti-mimesis.) Whichever view you ascribe to, I’m tickled  when the two converge unexpectedly.

(Or, I may have way too much time to “think” in between, lol.)

Take lobster for breakfast and the ensuing sunset later that day.

 

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No matter in which order they appeared (truthfully lobster did first; it was on my proposed holiday menu), both were delights. Later as the subsequent color schemes became apparent, I was astounded for obvious reasons. I love when that happens!

Earlier I posted that I was enjoying New Year’s food ideas “after the fact” for necessary reasons. Hooray for recipes with no expiration date! Incredibly — not to mention tastily — I was blessed to make this repast a few days hence for breakfast, followed by a skyline that echoed my JOY at the end o’ the day. No coincidence, I “think”.

Many thanks to Buffalo Gals Antiques for the blue-speckled cornbread baker you blessed me with earlier this year; it’s been versatile beyond that and then some! And, to Ally (Boho gal pal) for the plethora of personal and kitchen playthings you bestowed upon moi, xo.

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God has been (IS) so good to me this New Year, on my stove and on my plate. Talk about Comfort Food. (Click on the link for more.) I’m blessed to make dinner — or breakfast — and look out our windows at His grandeur. Tickled to share it with YOU too,  xo.

Enjoying life, lobster at whim, art (food or otherwise), philosophy, and sunsets,

~ Kim

Simple Shrimp Boil

Old Bay mug

Most shrimp boil recipes include corn and potatoes (and sometimes sausage), plus they make enough to feed an army. But, I was cooking for one (that’d be me) and I just wanted the “flavor.” The simpler, the better.

Recently I acquired this Old Bay mug (don’t ya love finds like that?) and I knew all I wanted to fill it with were shrimp and rice. (I’ll save the corn and potatoes for company dinner.)

In the time it took to cook the rice, the shrimp were prepped, simmered, and done — nothin’ else to do except spoon a dollop of each into my mug and eat!

Simple Shrimp Boil

(adapted from recipe #262 in 365 Ways to Cook Fish & Seafood by Charles Pierce… and Old Bay, of course)

3 sprigs fresh parsley (save some for garnish)

2 bay leaves

2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half

2 strips lemon peel

1/2 tsp. black peppercorns

1 Tbsp. Old Bay seasoning

1 cup water

1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 lb. large shrimp in the shell, deveined with tails intact

1 cup cooked jasmine rice (prepared per package directions)

1-2 green onions, including tops, thinly sliced

Place parsley, bay leaves, garlic, lemon peel, peppercorns, and Old Bay seasoning in a piece of cheesecloth (hint: I used a coffee filter) and tie with kitchen twine.

Bring water, wine, and salt to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add seasoning “bag”; reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 to 10 minutes.

Add shrimp; cook until pink and just beginning to “bend.” (Beware of cooking them until they curl into an “O” — it stands for overdone!) Drain well and discard seasoning bag.

Serve shrimp atop cooked rice. Garnish with green onions and parsley. Feel free to add a salad or steamed veggies and warm French bread for a complete meal.

Old Bay seasoning

FYI, I peeled the shrimp before serving and shared half with my hubby. (They made a flavorful shrimp fettuccine Alfredo, but he ate the evidence!)

‘Twas the least I could do after he constructed this to make my life easier.

Simplicity reigns at the lake. Ahhhhh…

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Enjoying shortcuts to happiness,

~ Kim

Twice As Nice (Croatian Chicken Paprikash and a Warm Boho Salad)

Two New Favorite Dishes

Since I arrived home, I’ve been vacillating between the life I started to eke out a year and a half ago after the fire (sorry to bring that up again) and “life” — after 3-1/2 months in Minnesota — following Mom’s Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Basically readjusting to my space.

Yes, there actually is (or once was) such a place, but some days I forget what that feels like. Between multiple phone calls to/from the care center, my Mom, the Realtor trying to sell Mom’s house from afar, her doctors, home inspectors… let’s just say I’m workin’ on it… a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!

Croatian Chicken Paprikash

Thank God for wonderful foodie friends who know me — or at least my love of GOOD foodand who’s recent recipes appealed to my sense of the familiar.

Pictured above is Croatian Chicken Paprikash by Jasmina Brasovic. OH MY! (Be sure to scroll down to her recipe for this on FB.) Even though my grandparents weren’t Croatian (they hailed from nearby Hungary), going back to my “Czech roots” — or at least the flavors that once fed me due to mutual proximity — has been instrumental in grounding me. I sooooo needed that!

Thanks, Jasmina, xo.

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Add to that an unconventional side dish: Maple Bacon Kale & Roasted Potatoes by Ally Phillips — a “warm salad” per my Boho friend, whom I know won’t mind that I subbed spinach (minus the chicken broth) and fried leftover baked potatoes in a pinch — and you have some extraordinarily good eatin’ on your hands (or plate), not to mention hearty Comfort Food by genealogical proximity.

Jasmina and Ally both have Croatia in common — twice as nice — plus exceptionally tasty recipes! My Grandma would have LOVED how these lovely ladies “cook.”

Nourishment is more than just eating — it’s food for the soul.

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Enjoying trying something new while attempting to get back to the “old,”

~ Kim

Cookware Debut

Fish Poached in White Wine 1

Humor me and hover over the photos…

 

I didn’t realize how dependent I was on my cookware until I had to use somebody else’s… a conflagration of pots and pans with mismatched lids. Gotta love ‘cabin’ cooking!

Since last November every meal has been a challenge and I’ve been doing my best trying to maintain normal life (and meals) with the implements at hand.

This feast, however, was accomplished in my newly arrived stainless steel cookware (with lids that match!) and I couldn’t help but debut it with something spectacular.

Fish Poached in White Wine 2

Who else to turn to but Julia Child?

Fish poached in white wine… ahhhhh, yes… life (and eating) is good.

I love her technique for “napping” the fish with the reduced stock — in this case thickened with cornstarch (due to my gluten issues) rather than a beurre manié.

Nap Time

The best way to share ‘how to’ is for you to check out Mastering The Art of French Cooking from your local library — if you don’t already own a copy — and turn to pages 208-211. (I don’t want to plagarize.)

All I can say was that it was fantastic… and, what a blessing it was to finally have the ‘right’ pan to cook with.

Some things are worth waiting for.

Enjoying reading, new recipes — and cookware!

~ Kim

Premeditated Pasta

Ravioli with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

The other day I was craving ravioli.  Toothy, substantial ravioli.

Out came the rolling pin, flour, olive oil, eggs, and salt.  The camera?  I glanced at it from across the kitchen counter but didn’t feel compelled to record a step-by-step.  When my hands are communing with the most basic of ingredients, it borders on spiritual.  (And if you hadn’t already gathered, my lil’ ol’ blog ain’t Martha Stewart, but I’ll give you some good ideas.)

Earlier, I roasted a small stash of veggies.  When I pulled them from the oven, their heat-altered beauty was breathtaking.  Garlic glowing like topaz.  Cherry tomatoes with garden-fresh goodness in every wrinkle.  Mushrooms in hues echoing their earthy origins.

Out came a Chianti bottle and a rustic-looking bowl.

(That’s about as Italian as my props get.)

As I snapped away, a rapturous aroma propelled my menu “plan” in ten different directions.  To chop or not to chop?  (Apologies to Shakespeare…)  Tomato sauce or filling?  Garlic-y Alfredo sauce?  Mushroom and tomato sauce?

The plus side of photographing dinner-in-progress is that it generates more ideas, which intoxicate me as much as aromas.

Maybe even more.

Ravioli art

Pasta Its Whats For Dinner

Once everything cooled down (including my inflammatory food imagination), I opted to make the filling out of freshly-made ricotta (another near-spiritual experience without photographic evidence), basil, oregano, half the garlic, an egg, a good amount of grated Parmesan, and one mushroom slice per pasta packet.

By the way, ravioli “rectangles” taste just as good as square ones.

As for the cherry tomatoes, I tossed ’em on top.  (Cherry tomatoes — self-explanatory.)  After a drizzle of olive oil, some additional Parmesan, and a grind of the peppermill, dinner was served.

Well… photographed (quickly) and served.

I don’t mind taking pictures as long as dinner’s still hot when I eat it.

Has food photography changed the way you cook — or eat?

Enjoying premeditated pasta,

~ Kimby