Happy Stuff

Spring is in full-swing here. The Man Of Few Words planted his flower garden and I smile every time I look at it. (The neighbor’s daffodils, too, when they were in bloom.) Lawn-mowing has also commenced.

Freshly-cut grass is one of my favorite fragrances.

The hummingbirds returned and they’ve been entertaining us with their aerial antics. Four eagles soared over our house this morning, too. Wow! We’ve also seen Woody Woodchuck in our front yard and a road runner in the back. (No Wiley Coyote though…) Talk about all creatures great and small. Thank you, Lord God, for making them all.

Besides the posies pictured above and the ones on our decks, the iris bed is going wild. Russ counted 67 stems with two to five buds each.

Another favorite fragrance… ahhhh.

It was too windy to take their photo today, so I brought a few inside.

Hope you’re finding Happy Stuff in your neck o’ the woods too, xo.

Enjoying sharing Springtime at the lake,

~ Kim

Annual Recipe Auditions

Every March I’m on the lookout for recipes to make “the best birthday meal ever” (hoping there’ll be many more birthdays and meals to come.) Generally, I search for dinner first. Okay, desserts, too. ;)

Surprisingly, this year’s first winner was breakfast.

Chef Mimi recently shared a recipe for Monte Cristo Crepes and my “flavor memory” was immediately transported back to the Monte Cristo’s of my youth — thick French-Toast-style ham and cheese sandwiches with jam, sprinkled with powdered sugar. (The Minnesota version came with warm maple syrup, too.) I loved Mimi’s crepe rendition, but obviously didn’t feel very ambitious come birthday morning. I also forgot the powdered sugar and maple syrup. Oh well! Just another excuse to make them again with the aforementioned. Her Monte Cristo crepes are still on my must-make list, too.

Then my thoughts turned to dinner. Frankly, I was too full after breakfast to even think about lunch! But first, I had to make dessert. Many recipes were up for consideration — some from as far away as Australia — but I decided it didn’t necessarily have to be “cake.” Incredibly, another one of Chef Mimi’s recipes showed up on my table later.

Chocolate Mousse. (Click on the bold links for her wonderful recipes.)

What swayed me most besides her life-long experience eating chocolate mousse made by her French mother (need I say more?) was a statement she made in her post: “I mean, if you’re going to eat chocolate, eat chocolate!” Yes, ma’am. That night it was just The Man Of Few Words ‘n’ me for dinner so I halved the recipe to make two generous servings. (Her original recipe serves eight, ahem…) Judging by the way Russ polished off his “serving” it was a total success! I savored the rest o’ mine the next day and it was just as wonderful.

Dinner turned out to be a simple affair — broiled steaks with baked potatoes (preceded by salads), accompanied by a great glass of Cabernet. What a delightful day from beginning to end, especially THE END. But wait… there’s more!

Many thanks for your kind birthday wishes on FB. Greatly appreciated and very uplifting! More “audition results” coming soon too, bearing in mind…

I can only cook (and eat) so many new recipes a day “at my age.” :)

Enjoying friends and flavor at the lake,

~ Kim

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

In My Kitchen ~ November 2020

In My Kitchen… are two Mickey & Minnie Mouse stemless wine glasses from a favorite friend. How timely! This month our In My Kitchen hostess, Sherry MacKay of Sherry’s Pickings, invited us to include “curve balls” in our posts besides the usual kitchen paraphernalia. Don’t you just love lighthearted, good-humored people? FUN!

In My Kitchen… my “best-ie” also sent two Mickey & Minnie shaped silicone trivets. Ditto on fun and lighthearted! Thank you, xo.

In My Kitchen… is an Oklahoma-shaped cutting board that illustrates our State’s unique shape. It’s also handy for charcuterie on the rare occasions our lake neighbors show up. Covid-19 has impacted our “socializing” and our State has been on the news a LOT lately with its rising numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths. Hold your loved ones close — or as close as you can — and celebrate every unique moment.

In My Kitchen… is a Noritake tea cup and saucer I acquired for tea-drinking. Somehow it just didn’t feel right to drink tea out of a coffee mug! Bearing in mind that most of you are entering your hot season, the cooler days here begged for special treatment… a hug in a cup.

In My Kitchen… are bay leaves I ordered from Nuts.com — more than I anticipated! But, they’ll add a lovely flavor to soups, stews, shrimp boils, and whatever else I figure out to use them in, don’t you think?

In My Kitchen … (or just up The Hill…) Autumn has arrived. It’s always been a Season of introspection for me — this year particularly so — and goes to show that some things still remain “the same” amidst change. How lovely to revel in that constant.

In My Kitchen… is one last “curve ball” pic of Life At The Lake — taken after one of my walkabouts. As Yeats wrote: “I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” Be gentle with folks (yourself, especially) during these tumultuous times. Keep following your dreams. Every day is a new adventure!

Enjoying Autumn and wishing you well,

~ Kim