Orange You Glad It’s Almost 2021?

(Re-edited to include a recipe…)

Orange isn’t a holiday hue, but it’s my favorite color. (Not that you could tell from my wardrobe or our house — there isn’t a speck of it to be seen.) No offense to red and green, but I love orange’s vibrant cheerfulness!

Above and below are a few favorite holiday foods a L’Orange

First up are/were these sweet potatoes that graced our Thanksgiving table. They made a repeat performance on Christmas Day, too. Easy, peasy — and orange.

Maple & Pecan Roasted Sweet Potatoes

1 Tbsp. butter or extra virgin olive oil

2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and sliced into 1/4″ rounds

1/3 – 1/2 cup pecan halves and/or pieces (the more, the merrier!)

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter or oil a baking dish and layer with sweet potato slices. Cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour or until a fork easily pierces sweet potato slices. Remove from oven and remove foil. Sprinkle pecans over the top, drizzle with maple syrup, and return to oven uncovered. Bake 15 minutes more. Enjoy!

Then, these beautiful citrus fruits from Texas arrived — a gift from a beloved Aunt in Minnesota. (Thank you!) Originally there were more oranges, but I juiced and zested a few to make her Apricot Nut Bread pictured at the top, plus a batch of my favorite Southern pecans below. Sorry, no photo… but, here’s the recipe:

Orange-Glazed Pecans (courtesy of former pecan grower and fab cook, Linda Lamb)

1 Tbsp. grated orange rind

1/4 cup orange juice

1 cup granulated sugar

4 cups pecan pieces or halves

Combine first three ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. Add pecans. Stir until most of the liquid is gone. Remove from heat and stir until pecans separate and glaze. Pour onto waxed paper to cool. (Ditto on easy peasy!)

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As for the Apricot Nut Bread, see below. The Man Of Few Words gave it a rave review :

“Now THAT’s some good bread!”

Sometimes he actually speaks. :)

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Apricot Nutbread

(recipe adapted from “The Snyder Family Cookbook” submitted by Mariah Snyder)

1 c. dried apricots, cut fine

1/4 c. hot water (soak apricots for 30 minutes)

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

3/4 c. sugar, more or less (I punted)

2 eggs

1/2 c. orange juice

2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8″ x 5″ loaf pan and set aside.

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs. Add orange juice alternately with dry ingredients. Fold in walnuts. (I coated them with some of the dry ingredients beforehand so they wouldn’t “sink”.) Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

NOTE: I made a half-batch in a small loaf pan. (Check for doneness around 40-45 minutes.) If you wish, brush 1 tsp. sugar mixed with orange juice over top of the loaf before baking. (I didn’t — TMOFW isn’t much for “sweets” — but he was thrilled with the way this one turned out.) Additionally, glaze or drizzle it with a mixture of OJ & confectioners’ sugar.

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Last but not least is a book I ordered from Marc Ensign, whose skill with words (and the bass guitar) I’ve admired for a long time. Please don’t judge his book by its cover! It may sound rather bawdy, but “Dick” refers to Marc’s neighbor who inspired him and many others (including me) to brighten the world with kindness, humility, forgiveness, and much more.

Plus, it’s my favorite color!

In just over 100 pages, Marc’s succint writing, storytelling, and humor touched my heart. Everybody needs to read this in 2021! You can order it by clicking here. But with shipping delays, sell-out stock, and hardcover copies hard to come by, you may have to wait awhile for delivery. (Be patient!) It’s well worth waiting for — and reading. “Be A Dick” is a treasure — even if it sounds “naughty.”

I don’t often recemmend things on my blog, but the subtitle on Marc’s book says it all: “How One Person Can Change The World In The Most Unexpected Way.” As I said, don’t judge this book by its cover! I received a number of “questioning” comments after my original post, but it was fun to clarify why I did. :) Also, please check out the recipe update above and have a Happier New Year and a happier outlook on life. We all need that in 2021.

Enjoying orange at The Lake,

~ Kim

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

In My Kitchen ~ Spring 2019

In My Kitchen… this salad was SO tasty I want to eat it again soon. A new restaurant opened nearby and everybody raved about their food. Of course I had to go see for myself to “read their menu” (aka: I was hungry and ready for someone else to cook for me) but lately my dining out adventures have been limited by my food allergies. (Hold the croutons and cheese, please!)

Imagine my surprise and delight to find a perfectly grilled salmon filet atop a bed of crisp greens, red pepper strips, grape tomatoes, and black beans accompanied by a wonderful lime vinaigrette. The first thing I said after I got home was: “They sure know how to make a vinaigrette!” (So does Chef Mimi — more below.)

In the meantime I was thrilled to find a local eatery that respects my limitations. (More on that below, too.)

In My Kitchen… I’m ready to dive into Spring and yet another salad: Chef Mimi’s “favorite.” Yes, I realize that favorite recipes are subjective and oft relegated to the dubious best-ever category, but her sense of flavor and texture are spot on in my experience. Her recipe also included ingredients I had on hand, except for the red cabbage. I sorted that out of a “coleslaw kit” before I served it to The Man Of Few Words for supper. (Call it hands-on cooking — I’ve resorted to it more times than I can count when our local grocery store was out of a particular ingredient — and two meals out of one ain’t bad.)

FYI, I also substituted brown rice for the barley. Mimi said that was okay — use whatever combination works for you. DO try her vinaigrette though. It was tantalizing! Still enjoying the rest on spinach salads and such.

Click on the link above for her recipe.

In My Kitchen… my cousin Jeanne and her husband Ken (who’ve hosted me on my many treks to Minnesota) arrived for an overnight stay. She presented me with some “bowl cozies” to keep our soup and cereal  warm (or cold) courtesy of her quilting scraps, and a crocheted potholder, too. What a treat to be the recipient of such handmade love! We enjoyed catching up on the deck and munching on appetizers in front of the lake before I served supper. Thank you, xo!

In My Kitchen… is an Irish Apple Cake I’ve made many times. NOTE: the original recipe may have included a lil’ Irish (whisky instead of vanilla) but it’s just as good without the “heritage.” The crunchy top layer is a lovely prelude to the moist, spice-laden cake below and it keeps well and freezes well, too.

Irish Apple Cake (recipe courtesy of my friend, Denise W.)

1/4 c. butter, softened

1 c. sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla (or whisky…)

2 c. diced peeled Granny Smith apples

1/4 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg (I used less because mine was freshly grated)

1 c. flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease an 8″ square baking pan. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat again. Add apples and nuts.

Combine dry ingredients; mix in with a wooden spoon. Mixture will be thick. Spread evenly into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes or until a pick comes out clean.

Remove from oven, cool on a wire rack, and cut into squares.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. (TMOFW says it’s “just right” plain. :)

Sherry MacKay of Sherry’s Pickings has more In My Kitchen adventures to connect your global hearts and kitchens ever since she took over from her predecessors — Celia, Maureen, and Liz. I’m grateful to all of them for the FUN and friendship — not to mention helping re-establish my kitchen four years ago — but, having said that…

I’ve finally decided that IMK fits best into my life quarterly rather than monthly. Welcome to the Spring edition! For now I have everything I need. It’s also Autumn “Down Under” (where Sherry hails from, as do many of the participants), but Spring has sprung here — and in my heart. I’ve put off too many writing deadlines during the past five years and hopefully you can see how colorful my life has become now. It’s time to make that leap of faith…

Whether you’re looking for food, flavor inspirations, or the latest kitchen gadgets, IMK is a reliable source. Thank you all! As for me, I’ll be back with more thoughts soon. Maybe in a letter? Meanwhile enjoy this glimpse of my surroundings, xo.

Enjoying salads, writing, and possibilities,

~ Kim

Christmas Day 2018

All is calm, but not so bright at the lake on December 25, 2018. Impending thunderstorms and overcast skies were the only thing this holiday morn had to offer photographically, however I still found JOY in the stillness and the quiet, muted colors. Hope you do, too! Things don’t always have to be “tinsel and glitter” to enjoy moments of peace.

After I fixed breakfast for The Man Of Few Words (bacon and eggs for him; a Mimosa and a stellar cup of freshly ground coffee for me:) we went for a walkabout ’round the ‘hood to check on our lake neighbors’ homes. All was well, except for evidence of a renegade armadillo who decided to take up residence under one of their houses and who continues to dig up our yards. (Such are the joys of living in rural Oklahoma.)

Ghosts of Christmas Past (and present) also caught my eye…

The Driftwood Trees have been a constant presence in our view ever since we moved here — remnants of former mountains and homes submerged after the huge dam fifteen miles east of us was completed in the 1960’s when Oklahoma’s largest lake was formed. I’ve always wondered what it was like to learn your home was about to be under water (sort of like the scene in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”)

Thankfully, we’ve remained high and dry — even at flood stage.

Still, the mountains in the distance (and valleys far below) give me pause for thought and tons gratitude for living on “The Hill.” Like peoples’ lives, you never know what may lurk underneath. Listen to their stories and they’ll honor yours. Everybody has a story to tell.

Surprisingly, this was the only “color” I discovered today — on Christmas Day. (That, and a delightful bouquet from TMOFW; guess he noticed I’ve been watching every Charlie Brown Special on TV since the holidays began. :)

May your holidays be merry and bright, even on grey days. XO!

Loving LIFE at the lake,

~ 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