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

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

In My Kitchen ~ April 2018

Seared salmon with lime lemon & dill

In My Kitchen…  Spring is in the air with vibrant colors, flavors, and lighter fare. (Pictured above: salmon en papillote with citrus and dill.) Served with fresh rosemary and garlic baby red potatoes and steamed haricot vert, it tasted like Spring on a plate!

In My Kitchen… is a wine-themed towel (a gift from my “Sis”, Candy, xo) that echoes my accent color. Next to it is another “fish dish” (non-edible) that doubles as a cache for The Man Of Few Words’ pocket change and keys, and below it is basket of towels (with fairy lights glowing :) to transform my daily duties into a delight. 

Speaking of which…

Wine tea towel

Tea towel from my choir director (aka “boss”), Louise, xo!

In My Kitchen… (and office… my “second home”) I added a few whimsical touches to personalize my life. Lighthearted attitudes — and surroundings — are contagious. (Another reason to love IMK!)

The candle holder was an “op shop” bargain that mirrored my accent color and matched my office lamp shade. (I love when that happens!) The 18K coffee tin belonged to my Dad and houses his marble collection — family treasures! — and the bluebird of happiness was another gift from Louise. :) No dull  “corners” in my house — or my kitchen!

The wine-colored valance above my kitchen sink was a church store (“op shop”) bargain, too. Its loopy loveliness allows me to see the LAKE through it without obstructing my view. Win/win!

In My Kitchen… are a multitude of cookbooks. One day a lovely elderly lady came to the church store during my volunteer stint, wanting to donate her lifetime collection. She also said she was undergoing cancer treatments and hoped that “someone” would appreciate her cookbooks and use them. How could I NOT respond? I took down her number and drove to her house 45 minutes away a few weeks later. 15 tote boxes to sort through! Mark Bittman? Bon Appetit? Giada? JULIA? Swoon…

What an honor to pass along her love of cooking to benefit those in need. I could only take three totes home with me (there are two more in my trunk!) but her gift will help fund our food shelf for months to come.

In My Kitchen is hosted by Sherry at Sherry’s Pickings. (Thanks, my congenial friend!) Treat yourself to other kitchens worldwide by clicking on her link.

Enjoying the prospect of some mighty tasty cooking — and Spring!

~ Kim