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?

Virtual Hugs Are Better Than None

Today I was thinking about hugs. (Something we’ve all been missing since Covid-19 invaded our lives.)

What are hugs exactly? A physical exchange of affection? Shows of affirmation? Encouragement embraced in two arms?

Although we’re not allowed the blessing of human touch at present, there are substitutes for relaying feelings when such means of contact are lacking — and/or ill-advised by the CDC.

The flowers above were planted by The Man Of Few Words to bring JOY into my life — and yours, xo.

Virtual hugs are popping up all over the planet: tele-songs from inspired muscians; humorous videos that allow us to laugh at our human frailties; heartfelt applause or banging on pots and pans from stay-at-home balconies; neighborhood dance parties; drive-by parades to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries; meals made with love and a lil’ bit of ingenuity; Flowergrams…

Yesterday this hand-picked bouquet showed up on our dining room table.

Even though I can’t touch you right now, I feel you!

(I love you and miss you, too.)

What’s been happening that made you SMILE (without involving hugs) to relay your JOY? Do tell.

Enjoying sharing virtual hugs,

~ Kim

Flowergram XI

Flowers are blooming around the lake so I thought I’d reinstate a former tradition: the Flowergram. (You can view the other ten by typing ‘flowergram’ into the “looking for something?” tab in my sidebar.) Too beautiful not to share!

Easter lillies were absent from our at-home holiday (Happy Easter, y’all!), plus it was the first time I didn’t play piano or organ for that church service in over 50 years. Yup, I’ve been at it for that long… and I miss it. Imagine my delight seeing an iris blooming against all odds to cheer me up. So delicate. So intricate. So aptly timed.

The world needs a lil’ cheering up these days.

So COLD for Oklahoma, too!

The weather took an “unseasonal” dip overnight (30-degrees with 30 mph winds) and I had to brave the elements to take pics this morning. I dressed in a hot pink bathrobe, black hooded sweatshirt, an old green raincoat, and my Wellingtons. (The Man Of Few Words has seen worse, lol!) So how’s your isolation wardrobe these days?

Despite my avant-garde attire, it was uplifting to see the earth adorning itself in beauty once again. There’s a lot of HOPE in that. Life goes on… despite the odds.

Whatever you wear, be safe! It’s a jungle out there.

Enjoying local flora & fauna,

~ Kim

Truth From The Lake

I’ve wept for worldwide losses. Smiled over simple joys. Felt blessed to make dinner despite shortages. Prayed for the less fortunate. Contributed to causes.

What more could I do while social distancing and staying at home, as “personally” as the internet allows? Make bread.

A lil’ lovin’ from the oven goes a long way — plus the store was almost out.

This is 2020, yes? What a different world we live in. But, back to the basics can be a good thing — a vital reminder to cherish life and change what you can, even if it means kneading dough after your arms are tired. (Imagine what it must be like for folks on the front lines… doctors, nurses, paramedics, EMT’s, police, firefighters, first responders, gas station/convenience store/ grocery clerks, etc. — God bless ’em all — and thank you.) Sometimes we need to start “from scratch.”

While I was pummeling dough, the song “I Need You” by America came to mind. (Probably because my brain accesses random trivia when I least expect it; remind me to become a Jeopardy contestant.) “I knead you, like the flour needs the rain.” [sic]. You get the idea. Hopefully you can access this link to their recording session, along with a few o’my own in bold blue. Some things bear repeating.

I especially loved the banter at the beginning wondering if they should do over and their producer’s advice: “Just keep going.” That’s where we’re at right now, America.  Just keep going! Stay inside, wash your hands, listen to/follow the CDC guidlines, and make the most of your time on the planet. Make bread and music if you can, too — you never know whose soul you might inspire, save, or feed. Keep it up!

Enjoying an introspective moment at the lake,

~ 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

Snooze If You Must

How many people do you know who’ve made best friends with a fox?

Other than Kevin Costner’s scenes in Dances With Wolves while he attempted to befriend “Two Socks” (the elusive wolf), I seriously doubted it could happen for “real” unless it was cinematographically staged. Then I ran across this photo in my archives, which immediately sparked a sense of wonder to the point of being compelled to share it with you again… with a story.

Yes, this actually happened.

In the weeks prior to that Kodak moment, my ever-lovin’ patient hubby (The Man Of Few Words, aka: TMOFW) worked as a groundskeeper at a retirement community between trucking jobs — mowing lawns, edging sidewalks, watering flower beds, making repairs, and courteously attending to its elderly residents.

One day he came home and said a fox showed up at his workshop door. Per TMOFW, he proffered a nonchalant “hi” (in a no rush, whenever you’re ready tone of voice) and the fox stuck around to “observe.” Later, it began following him on his rounds — trotting beside him or slightly behind. What a sight that must have been.

Their relationship continued to grow on innate curiosity and a mutual respect for boundaries — the story of our marriage (feeling blessed) — even though it was tentative at first. Sometimes the fox skittered off when TMOFW made a sudden move (truthfully, I did too) and other times it stuck around longer and longer to absorb the wonder. Isn’t that what life is about? Building trust one day at a time?

Long story short, I’m certain the fox never encountered such a calm human being. (Bonus points for Russ’s moniker meaning “red like a fox.”) As the days wore on they continued to forge the bonds of friendship.

Kindred souls.

One day TMOFW called. “Can you bring your camera please? Mr. Fox is getting sleepy.” I arrived just as it sidled up to a cedar fence and yawned. The fox didn’t appear overly concerned about my presence (see trust above) and allowed me to get fairly close before he settled in for a snooze. Speaking of which…

How do you feel about using the snooze button on your alarm clock and/or phone? Although I resort to it every once in awhile, it feels like I’m delaying the inevitable. As Maria Von Trapp once extolled: “When you wake up, WAKE UP! It’s healthy…

That said, I’ve adopted a much more relaxed approach to life and blogging lately, despite my previously stated intentions to post more frequently. Some days I don’t have much to say, but I observe a lot. Spring is just around the corner and I plan to write more… cook more… show you more… after I hit the the snooze button.

Wonder is where you look for it (and blessed to find it) when you’re AWAKE!

Enjoying memories at a slower pace,

~ 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