Do More Of What Makes You Happy

Prior to last month’s shelter-in-place orders going into effect (aka: lockdowns, quarantines, or stay-at-home mandates re: Covid-19) I visited a lovely local shop and picked up several notepads for future gift giving. Not only did they offer upbeat sayings, they included a color-coordinated spatula. (Some folks call them “scrapers” — in this case a mini-scraper — but I still call them “spatulas” no matter what size.) Figured they’d come in handy for ekeing out the last of whatever folks were trying to use and was cheered by the postive message. Apologies to whoever coined the logo above; I’ve seen it a number of times so I figured it was “public domain.” May you reap your reward in heaven for such an uplifting thought! Thank you.

Little did I know how important that phrase would become in the coming months. These days we’re all trying to reduce/re-use/recycle bits and bobs at the bottom of the bottles lurking on our fridge shelves. Truthfully, they’ve escalated to even more importance than we ever could’ve imagined. One more ounce of flavor = another meal. For those suffering from food shortages, my prayers are with you. I feel entirely blessed to have enough (so far) and the means to splurge now and then. I also continue to donate to our local food shelf and I hope other folks do, too.

Mother’s Day came and went. My annual tradition usually includes making something with lobster (don’t I wish?) but it wasn’t meant to be this year. Frozen shrimp was the only seafood alternative. (Does anyone else dread going to the grocery store until absolutely neccesary like I do?) Still, I was overjoyed that they carried some sort of crustacean. I also had a recipe in mind…

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

(adapted from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything)

1 large clove garlic (I used 1 tsp. refrigerated minced garlic)

1 T. Kosher salt (his recipe specified “coarse salt”)

1/2 tsp. sweet paprika

1/2 tsp. hot paprika

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice

15 to 20 medium-sized shrimp, peeled & deveined with tails intact (I used the frozen/thawed equivalent)

  1. Mince garlic with salt until fine. Add both paprikas and blend well.
  2. Stir in lemon juice and EVOO to make a paste. (I transferred the above to a bowl before making the paste.)
  3. Add shrimp; mix gently to coat thoroughly.
  4. Allow to marinate for a few minutes or up to 1 hour.
  5. Preheat grill (or broiler) to high. Place shrimp skewers as close as possible to heat source.
  6. Grill (or broil) 2-3 minutes per side or until shrimp are pink.
  7. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

I added two skewers of veggies, too — mushrooms, onions, and grape tomatoes — before I tossed the shrimp on the grill (shown slightly “charbroiled” above by the time I got to ’em) but they were a delightful addition to my holiday meal. Bonus points for “Chili Lime Fish En Papillote.” (No recipe… just sprinkle fish filets with extra virgin olive oil, S & P, chili powder, and freshly-squeezed lime juice wrapped in foil.) YUM! The rest of the shrimp and veggies are headed for a batch of Jambalaya tonight along with some rice, smoked sausage, and chicken from my freezer. Reduce/reuse/recycle. And, do more of what makes you happy!

For me that involves cooking (or grilling) by the seat of my pants, letting nothing go to waste, watching Jeopardy (even the re-runs lol), reading books, practicing the piano, going outside to snap a photo now and then, writing letters, keeping “the castle” clean for TMOFW, and hopefully posting an upbeat message whenever I’m so inclined.

Be safe and well, my friends, xo.

Enjoying present-day life despite the ongoing restrictions,

~ Kim

Did I mention dancing?! What makes YOU happy these days?

Fried Rice and Another Flowergram

With everything that’s going on in our country right now, including food shortages, I’ve refrained from posting “foodie pics” until today. They just didn’t feel right under the present circumstances. (No offense to those of you who have — thanks for the recipe ideas, too.) I stopped counting Flowergrams after my recent post… the less “statistics” or advice the better.

However, since I’m faced with the same shortages as you are and know how to stretch a meal, I thought I’d share a supper: Fried Rice. (Chop sticks not included.)

Whatever brings you JOY and/or feeds you ‘n’ your family!

This particular batch involved water chestnuts, yellow onions, green onions, part of a red pepper (the rest was reserved for omelets), frozen peas (briefly steamed), and a scrambled egg seared in sesame oil. FYI, I used vegetable oil to start things out, so as not to overwhelm the final dish with the sesame oil flavor. A lil’ goes a long way! Feel free to add a splash of soy sauce and/or gluten-free tamari at will, too.

Rice has long been a staple of the world. Folks’ lives depend on it! Often paired with fish, Beans ‘n’ Rice is a favorite dish o’ mine, too. Gotta love cross-cultural cooking.

Ironically, I forgot to include any meat (supposedly on the endangered list, too, or so “they” say), but my hubby ‘n’ I didn’t miss it at all. It was hot, hearty, and healthy, plus it filled us up — and then some.

Last, but not least (and owing to the predominant color scheme of the day…) here’s a rose that bloomed despite our stormy weather.

Enjoying savoring blessings — foodie, floral, or otherwise,

~ Kim

Chicken Salad and Other Possibilities

We could all use a few possibilities these days.

One thing I’ve done to pass the time is to see how many “new” meals I can make out of one. The other night it was roast chicken. After dinner I deboned the bird, simmered the carcass with veggies for stock, and divided the rest into portions. Visions of poultry dishes danced in my head: chicken Alfredo, creamed chicken on baking powder biscuits, chicken Tetrazzini, chicken ‘n’ rice hotdish, and many more — plus one o’ my favorites — chicken salad. Talk about a party on a plate.

Depending on “who” you invite, the outcome is different every time. (Great way to use up fridge-dwellers, too.) Yesterday’s soirée included diced Granny Smith apples, celery, and onions — with cooked chicken, of course — seasoned with Himalayan salt, freshly ground black pepper, grated nutmeg, and dressed with a jalapeno honey orange mayo combo. Let the revelry begin!

I also feel the same way about potatoes. (Sorry, no photos.)

Mashed, baked, creamed, fried, scalloped, hashed, roasted, boiled for potato salad (or in soups and stews), pancakes, patties, au gratin, O’Brien, oh my! At times I feel like “Bubba” in Forrest Gump.

But, whatever you do…

Memories were meant to be passed along. (Safely.) Make the most of your time… and ingredients.

Enjoying a lil’ creativity in the kitchen,

~ Kim

Catch Of The Day

It’s been a long time since I’ve tasted a Northern or Walleye, let alone caught one.

Back in the halcyon days of summer vacations, Dad ‘n’ I would arise before anybody else (I’m talking 5:00 a.m.) and launch the resort’s Alumacraft fishing boat with its 25 hp Evinrude motor armed with a thermos of coffee and fishing poles from home in high hopes of catching a lunker. Some morning our outings yielded Northerns; other days walleyes. Both were wonderful.

So are the memories.

There’s nothing like casting a line and feeling a rebellious tug beneath the surface, except for eating it later. (Fellow-fisherman, you know from whence I speak.) One of the highest compliments my Dad ever paid me was: “Nice cast!” On that particular morning mine landed next to a weed bed where I subsequently reeled in a 5-pound Northern. I’ll never forget the sight of it breaking the calm surface of the lake with a defiant splash — or the proud look on my father’s face.

Afterwards we went back to the cabin to cook breakfast. While Dad cleaned our early-morning catch, I prepped potatoes, toast, and another pot of coffee. One of the best wake-up calls I’ve ever experienced was the aroma of fried potatoes and fresh fish fillets sizzling in a cast iron skillet with toast and freshly brewed coffee.

Plenty of butter was also a plus.

Recently I bought some Ghee — clarified butter with the milk solids removed — after attempting to make my own and researching numerous articles re: its compatability with dairy allergies. I miss butter! Some of them said it was a no-no, while others proclaimed it was lactose and “dairy-protein-free.” (The bane of my existence.) Ever the optomist, I opted for the latter. So far, so good, one teaspoon or “dunk” at a time.

Last weekend a couple from church returned from a fishing trip to Canada with two coolers full of fillets on ice intent on giving away their excess. Thank you SO much for your generosity! I was like a kid in a candy store in front of their tailgate in the church parking lot. After I got home I thawed a bag of Walleye fillets and made Walleye Almondine (or Amandine.) Sorry, no photos — it was gone in a flash.

The next day I made Poor Man’s Lobster (click on the link for the recipe): Northern fillets poached in a white wine and what-have-you broth. I added a few Court Bouillon ingredients ala Alton Brown — the more, the merrier — and broiled them to perfection later. Soooo grateful to taste that flavor again.

Enjoying the catch of the day and memories,

~ Kim

Sharing Is Caring (Carnitas)

Some things are too good not to share. Take Carnitas for instance. Translated as “little meats”, a hunk of pork is slow-cooked for hours, shredded into shards after it’s fork-tender, then sautee’d prior to serving. Talk about flavor this side of heaven. (The leftovers freeze and reheat well, I might add.)

A few simple ingredients contributed to that stunning transformation: onions, oranges, garlic, oregano, bay leaves, salt, sweetened condensed milk (truth be told, I punted and mixed coconut oil and coconut palm sugar to achieve that effect due to my dairy allergies) and lard. Confession, I subbed “bacon fat” — a Southern staple. Oh my!

Several years ago I made David Leite’s Authentic Carnitas and enjoyed every bite, then filed his recipe for future refence. When I looked it up again last week, the only note I discovered on it was: “These are fabulous!” (Click on the link for the recipe.) Who doesn’t want to eat fabulous food?

Shown above with a skewer of black olives, a side-salad of baby spinach, arugula, and orange segments dressed in a lime vinaigrette with avocado slices drizzled with lime juice and liberally sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper, plus a gluten-free wrap I was trying out that evening, (ditto on oh my!) it exceeded my flavor expectations. In the future I may incorporate some of the sides into that hefty structure (who doesn’t love a good fusion taco?!), but on that particular evening I wanted to taste everything separately. Unfettered. Fabulous!

Re: the taco shells… BFree Sweet Potato Wraps. Described on their packaging as: “Scrummy with sweet potato, beetroot & carrot” I have no idea how they ended up on our local grocer’s shelf with their UK pricing and origins, but they were mighty tasty. (Thanks, adventurous grocery store buyers!) FYI, they’re also good with a slice of pastrami, a “schmear” of Dijon mustard mixed with mayo, and an assortment of greens. Gotta love cross-cultural-flavor adventures.

Re: Life On The Lake, we’re still in the throes of winter in Oklahoma — torrential rains, hail, tornadoes, fog, frost, ice, sleet, snow, and temps ranging from 70 to 30 or below — but I still love it here. Don’t let weather — or life — distract you from your dreams. You never know when the next surprise or inspiration will show up.
Speaking of which — above is a “just because” mid-winter bouquet TMOFW showed up with one afternoon. It was least I could do was to surprise him with FABULOUS food that evening. Isn’t it lovely how that all works out?

Well, that pretty much sums up life at the lake lately. Cook! Eat! Enjoy! And, be sure to look up a few recipes while you’re at it.

Enjoying revisiting FABOULOUS food,

~ Kim