Another Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Sometimes life can become so cluttered we don’t see the beauty in front of us — or we neglect to look for it.

(See that orange leaf on the left? A promise of more colorful days to come.)

After a recent 7″ inch rainfall and the ensuing runoff from the Canadian River, which feeds into the lake and deposits an assortment of driftwood and such onshore, this lone forerunner of Fall — a harbinger, if you will (love that word) — reminded me that my favorite Season is almost here. Yay!

Here’s another couple of looks courtesy of our neighbors’ yards.

Thanks for the peace, y’all!

Ahhhhh….

Then there’s the tree below. What an interesting life it must have led to leave such scars… wish I knew its story. I have plenty of scars of my own — we all do. Do tell! Someday I may even write about my own.

On the homefront, two trees in our front yard perished in the fire five years ago (going on six), but they’re such bird sanctuaries we haven’t had the heart to cut them down. (Mother Nature seems to take care of that one branch at a time.) Pictured below is a resting place for woodpeckers, warblers, chickadees, bluebirds, blue jays, cardinals, hummingbirds, thrashers — even turkey vultures — and more.

Wherever you are (in the big city or a rural retreat) notice the BEAUTY around you. Ignore any ongoing “clutter” and appreciate your life.

Most of all, “Keep On The Sunny Side.” If you’ve never listened to that song or read the lyrics, please click on the link above. Beauty and the promise of more colorful days ahead keep me goin’. Hope they do you, too, xo.

Enjoying an unexpectedly beautiful day in the neighborhood,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ September 2020

Hello, dear ones. I haven’t participated In My Kitchen for almost a year — not for lack of interest, but for lack of “new” things to show and tell. At this stage of the game I don’t need much, but every once in awhile I run across something interesting. Thank you to Sherry’s Pickings for another opportunity to join in the fun. If you have culinary interests — or if you’re curious — please click on her link above for a global tour of ingredients, storytelling, and delightful folks who love to cook. I discover something new every time I tune in.

In My Kitchen… is/was today’s repast: a Fried Egg Florentine with Crispy Shallots and Goat Cheese. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt inspired to fix something “fancy” for myself, but today was the day. (SO good…) Don’t neglect to nurture you.

In My Kitchen… is a new set of cookware. I wasn’t planning on replacing the old set, but I was frustrated by their strainer-style lids and pour-spout pan edges. A good seal is tantamount to great flavor. One day while I was watching a TV talk show (a rare occurrence) they featured a “deal of the day” — a set of professional-grade Cuisinart pans for a ridiculously low price. Who am I to argue with signs? Did I hit the order button immediately? Nope. I did a lot of research and read the reviews. Hundreds of them.

It’s funny what folks complain about. “Everything sticks.” (Heat up those induction-bottomed pans gradually.) “Too many spots.” (Ever tried a cotton dish towel?) “I only hand wash them.” (It’s doubtful professional chefs take the time — the pans are stainless steel and they clean up just fine in the dishwasher.) “Wish they had clear lids.” Seeing isn’t believing. Trust your instincts — or practice some more. Frankly, I was thrilled with their flat restauant-style lids. Long live the diner days…

Now if I only had more folks to cook for besides The Man Of Few Words ‘n’ me — hello, lake neighbors!

In My Kitchen… is a bottle of Jalapeno Honey. Not only is it great for glazing grilled chicken or pork chops, it also makes for a lovely salad dressing. A splash of white balsamic vinegar and EVOO followed by a drizzle of that golden nectar results in some mighty fine eatin’ without the fuss of making a vinaigrette. Heavenly indeed!

In My Kitchenare other “new” or rediscovered recipes: Kasbah Chicken Skewers (courtesy of Ally’s Kitchen cookbook), fresh-caught Gulf shrimp (before Hurricane Laura hit), and the Best Fluffy, Flakey, Buttery Biscuits Ever thanks to a previous IMK hostess, Maureen Shaw, who said “no need to acknowledge me for the recipe.” Thank you kindly, ma’am, but I like to give credit where it’s due.

Best Fluffy, Flakey, Buttery Biscuits Ever — thanks, Maureen!

(My recipe is for a half-batch; double and cut ’em into whatever shape suits you.)

1 cup all purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

1/4 cup (4 Tbsp.) cold butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes, plus extra to melt and brush on top before or after baking (see below)

1/3 cup milk

1-1/2 tsp. honey

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender until mixture is pea-sized.

Stir in milk and honey until dough comes together. (Don’t overmix.)

Dump onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times. (I just kneaded it in the bowl — no counters to clean)

Pat with your fingers to about 3/4-inch high. (I saved a step — and more counter cleaning — doing that on the parchment-lined sheet pan.)

Cut with a biscuit cutter, tin can, or glass, but don’t use a seesaw motion as the biscuits won’t be as high — or use a chef’s knife and cut into squares. Optionally, let them rest twenty minutes before baking or not. (I opted for the second option in both cases.)

Separate biscuits 2-inches apart, or 1-inch apart if you like softer edges. (I did and do.) Brush with melted butter if desired. (I waited until the end.)

Bake 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven to a cooling rack and brush tops with melted butter. Serve immediately or cool completely and freeze the rest. Bring on the sausage gravy or breakfast biscuits!

In My Kitchenthings are pretty much status quo since the last time I touched base (thank heavens) — making the most of what I have and whatever we’ve been blessed with — an integral part of IMK. I feel blessed to state that, considering hunger is a huge problem here and worldwide. Feed your family — yourself — and a few other folks while you’re at it. (Please contribute to your local food pantry, too.) Every lil’ bit helps.

Enjoying “new” blessings,

~ Kim

Friendships Renewed

Just tried to re-post a “blast from the past” since I don’t have anything new to report these days. (Blame it on Covid-19 and contentment.) I know WordPress offers a way to do that, but I haven’t figured out how yet. So, I’m teasing you with a photo of Old Boy (our Great Blue Heron) and hoping you’ll click on the following link to see what I’m up to. Some things never change, including ongoing friendships.

https://alittlelunch.com/2012/06/05/friendship-renewed-rhapsody-in-blue-iv/

If you’re feeling so inclined, please look up my other Rhapsody in Blue posts in the sidebar under “search.” Can’t believe it’s been that long since I wrote them, but Life On The Lake has stayed pretty much the same. Feeling blessed!

So, how are YOU doing during the pandemic? What are your greatest challenges so far? What’s been your greatest solace? (Please share.)

Other than cooking, cleaning, and keeping myself amused — reading is a HUGE plus — I’ve been hanging out and enjoying whatever God and Nature have to offer. How about you? Are you okay? I care about YOU!

Hoping this lil’ bit of PEACE was a bright spot in your day.

Enjoying solace — and friendship — at the lake,

~ Kim

Butter Poached Walleye Almondine

They said there were walleye in our lake and we’ve tried every tactic known to man to catch one, to no avail.

Then one morning The Man Of Few Words ran up to the house as excited as a schoolboy passing his first love note.

In a way, it was.

“Kim! I caught a walleye!” (He knows it’s my favorite fish.)

I’ve watched him hurry up from shore to show me his latest large mouth bass from time to time, but that morning his demeanor was different. Proud, but humble. Excited, yet reverent. I love that about him.

I immediately started planning dinner.

Butter Poached Walleye Almondine

1 pkg. slivered almonds

4 Tbsp. clarified butter or ghee

Walleye fillets, rinsed and patted dry

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Lemon slices for garnish

Parsley for garnish (optional)

In a skillet over medium heat, toast almonds until fragrant and lightly browned. Watch closely and stir frequently so they don’t burn. Set aside on paper towels.

Melt butter or ghee in another skillet over medium heat. (I have induction skillets so I start them on low and increase the heat gradually.)

Add walleye fillets and saute’ 3 to 5 minutes depending on their thickness. As the underside cooks, tip skillet and spoon melted butter over top to “poach” the fillets. Flip them over and repeat poaching process.

Add toasted almonds around perimeter of skillet and give them a stir to coat with butter. Season with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

When the fillets flake easily with a fork, plate up and enjoy!

Enjoying lake lilfe,

~ Kim

Fourth of July Frolics

Take one sassy slice of quiche…

add Albondigas (Mexican-style meatballs ala Ally’s Kitchen)…

plate ’em up (patriotically, if you’re so inclined) and ENJOY!

Many thanks to those past & present who gave us the freedom to do so, xo.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Last night we kicked off the weekend with an outdoor gathering on our neighbors’ deck — the first time we’d “partied” since the pandemic started. Social distancing, storytelling, and smiling resulted, not to mention satisfied bellies. Besides quiche and mini-meatballs, our hostess served a swoon-worthy penne pasta with grilled chicken drenched in a vodka cream tomato sauce. Can we say holiday happiness?

The Man Of Few Words only lasted an hour, having forewarned me his bedtime was 7:00 o’clock. (He’s on “trucker time” never mind holiday weekends or invitations.)

I stayed until 10:00!

What a treat to visit with neighbors once again, watch fireworks around the lake, and sip a cocktail or two with friends. After I walked home I bid TMOFW a silent “goodnight kiss” and sat on our deck to watch more fireworks, fireflies, and an almost-full moon for another hour. Blessings!

This morning told a different story…

Our fishing trip at the crack of dawn (never mind what time I went to bed…) was cancelled by unexpected/unpredicted thunderstorms. Lightning flashed, thunder rumbled, and waves/whitecaps kicked up, thus preventing us from reeling in potential lunkers. (Oh well!) We needed the rain.

Plan B: We enjoyed coffee on the deck between lightning bolts, I made him breakfast (bacon, eggs, & fried potatoes), put the finishing touches on my prelude for tomorrow morning’s church service (SO blessed to “work” from home), and weeded the railroad ties by our driveway. Sometimes you just have to roll with it.

Speaking of “rolling with it”…

Here’s the recipe for my quiche. It was gone faster than a lightning bolt.

Kim’s Quiche Lorraine

1 (9″) unbaked pie shell (see recipe below)

6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled

1 c. grated Swiss cheese

4 eggs, beaten

2 c. half & half (light cream)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

Dash of hot sauce (Frank’s Red Hot or Louisiana)

Freshly grated nutmeg (garnish)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Arrange crumbled bacon and Swiss cheese in an unbaked pie shell.

Beat eggs, half & half, and seasonings; pour into pie shell. Sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Bake for 30 more minutes and do the “jiggle” test. You’ll “see” when it’s set; if in doubt, insert a knife into the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done.

Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve.

My Tried and True (with FAB reviews) Pie Crust

1-1/3 c. all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. Crisco (plain, not butter-flavored)

2 Tbsp. cold milk

Stir together flour and salt. Cut in Crisco with two butter knives until pea-sized crumbs form. Continue with a pastry blender until small crumbs form. Sprinkle milk over the top; blend with a fork until the pastry forms a ball.

NOTE: You may have to add more (or less) milk depending on the humidity — your hands are the best judge. Don’t be afraid to squish it together with your fingers! I frequently abandon the fork and rely on the “hands-on” method.

Form the dough into a disk, place between two sheets of waxed paper (no clean up — easy peasy!), and roll into a circle. The thickness will depend on what you’re baking — thinner for quiche; thicker for a meat pie/pierogie.

Peel off top side of waxed paper and center crust over pie plate. “Ease” it into the plate, trim the excess crust with a paring knife, and crimp edges. Proceed per the recipe above. (Double recipe for a two-crust pie.)

FYI, the leftover pie crust trimmings make fabulous “pie crust cookies” spinkled with a lil’ sugar and cinnamon, or cobbler topping or mini-pies.

What a wonderful weekend it’s been so far! Wishing you the same. Be safe and share when you can.

Oops… the next monsoon is about to start (this one was predicted) so I better hit “publish” before my internet shuts down. Take care.

Enjoying socializing, cooking, writing, and baking again,

~ Kim