Pleasant Diversions

These days I’m hard-pressed for topics to write about, unless you want to hear about my housecleaning efforts. Naturally, I turned to food as a creative outlet and diversion. (I’d rather cook than clean closets.)

Pictured above is Salmon Salad on Fry Bread. There was half of a seared salmon filet in the fridge awaiting reheating or reincarnation and I chose the latter. After flaking it, I added capers, finely diced red onions, lemon zest, and enough mayonnaise to hold it together, seasoned with several grinds of black pepper. But, what to serve it on?

A bed of assorted greens came to mind, but I wanted something more substantial. (Crackers or toast would have fit the bill too, but I was fresh out.) Then I thought about “Taco Tuesdays” — or in our neck o’ the woods — Indian Tacos on fry bread. Hot and puffy, fry bread is easy to make and even easier to eat. Why not pair it with Salmon Salad? (FYI, I used cup-for-cup gluten free flour; not quite as puffy as all-purpose flour, but satisfying nonetheless.) Garnish at will — or playfully.

Next up on my diversion list were Beef Short Ribs for supper. Normally I roast them to render the fat, then shred the meat to mix with BBQ sauce, but this recipe caught my eye. Layer upon layer of aromas permeated the house as I seared, sauteed, and simmered — almost to the point of being hedonistic. Served with mashed potatoes and coleslaw on the side, they were everything I hoped for flavor-wise. Many thanks to Holly of Spend With Pennies for this superb dish.

Last but not least, we’ve been graced with some spectacular sunsets lately — particularly this one earlier in November. Between the visual and visceral inspirations, I might even clean another closet.

Enjoying pleasant diversions at The Lake,

~ Kim

Comfort Food IV

History repeats itself, or so it’s said.

On this particular Autumn day I was thinking Comfort Food. Apparently, my mind was on food more than photography. The plated version turned out to be a rather monochromatic affair — further aided and abetted by Oklahoma’s sunshine — but The Man Of Few Words was happy with his supper: breaded pork cutlets, mashed potatoes with Kerry Gold butter, deviled eggs, corn, and coleslaw. He’s also color blind. ;)

My ulterior motive was to eat while it was still hot (foodies everywhere know from whence I speak ) so I snapped a quick photo. While this one may not be worthy of the history books, it sure tasted good.

In researching my vast archives (I’m not exaggerating…), one dish I rediscovered was Neapolitan Meatballs with Ragu. The first time I made it was before the pandemonium… er… pandemic began, in a post entitled An Ode To 2020 and Beyond. Ironically (or prophetically?) I concluded by saying: Enjoying “2020” vision at the lake. I guess we all know how that — and the rest of 2020 — turned out.

Recently I recreated Round Two of that sublime dish over Soft Polenta (instead of pasta) and smiled recalling my previous post’s admonition to “Live life well.” That advice still stands. It also helps to be adaptable when history repeats itself.

Getting back to the pork cutlets, apologies for lack of an “official” recipe… basically I patted the cutlets dry, seasoned them with salt & pepper (S & P), dredged ’em in a mixture of flour, Lawry’s seasoning salt, dry mustard, onion powder, and S & P, dipped ’em in an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1/4 cup water), dunked ’em in bread crumbs seasoned with paprika, and fried ’em for 3-5 minutes per side until golden brown.

For more fun and frolics, feel free to click on the bold “greenish” links within this post. You never know when an actual recipe might show up.

As they say, the rest is history.

Enjoying ongoing Comfort Food,

~ Kim

Pizza Playgrounds

Pizza is a veritable playground.

Just when I think I can’t come up with another flavor combo, voila!

Sometimes I outdo myself…

Here ’tis before it became a “hot mess” (to quote a Southern phrase) — artichoke hearts, olives, toasted pine nuts, and mini-pepperoni slices. Basically, I was cleaning out my fridge, freezer, and pantry, and this is what went into the oven.

Hmmm. What sounds good together?

Better yet, what tastes good together?!

With a lil’ goat cheese for added interest atop a gluten-free crust, my taste buds were intrigued for two days. (Anyone else like leftover pizza for breakfast?) The pine nuts took it over the top… crunchy pizza… YUM.

No matter what life presents, there’s a flavor combo awaiting YOUR ingenuity.

Be creative!

Oh my, YES…

Enjoying pizza playgrounds,

~ Kim

It’s What’s For Dinner

It’s no secret I love living in Oklahoma, but did you know I’ve always wanted to be a chuckwagon cook?

Folks who feed the masses with cast iron pots and pans over a campfire (or on cookstoves like my grandmothers did) fascinate me — not only for their meticulous planning and timing, but for their dedication to quality food.

I doubt I’ll realize that dream now (being somewhat “old-er” and rather fond of my kitchen at the lake) but there’s one thing I emulate on a regular basis: quality food begins with quality ingredients.

Introducing McCutchen’s Cattle Call Ranch out of Checotah, Oklahoma. The name “Cattle Call” comes from a Country & Western song written by Tex Owens — made famous by Eddy Arnnold and many others — even Elvis.

You can’t go wrong with a name like that, or their beef. Locally processed and sold by whole, 1/2, or 1/4, their packages include steaks, roasts, short ribs, hamburger, and more. Ranch-raised with the utmost care, these folks put a lot of hard work into their product and it shows. Better yet, it tastes like it! (For ordering information, please email cattlecallranch@outlook.com)

Quick disclaimer: I don’t usually plug products here — it’s for FUN, not profit — but the Cattle Call Ranch gave me a package of ribeyes and hamburger to try, and what’s a wanna-be chuckwagon cook to do?

BEEF… it’s what’s for dinner. Break out your cast iron skillet and get ready to ring the dinner bell.

Enjoying some mighty fine vittles,

~ 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