Life In Small Bites

Sometimes the memory of a flavor is all it takes to rekindle a foodie’s enthusiasm.

Mushroom bouquet

One fine Autumn day as I wandered around our yard, I happened upon an unexpected “mushroom bouquet” and my first thought was food.

They immediately evoked memories of mushrooms past. Slowly simmered in a velvety red wine sauce laced with garlic. Stuffed mushrooms. Mushroom pate’. Manchego mushrooms.

So many possibilities!

Autumn treasures

Lately I’ve been living life in “small bites” — one tentative taste at a time — until I’m ready to jump in again.

Rediscovering flavor.

And that’s okay. Autumn is progressing nicely at the lake. Me, too. 

Loving life,

~ Kim

Arancini Adventures

Arancini (pronounced arrrr-un-cheeni — roll that “r” like a pirate!) are cheese-stuffed rice croquettes from Italy. A friend from In My Kitchen recently chronicled her escapades in the Mediterranean — thanks, Debi — including a photo of Arancini and I couldn’t resist their allure any longer. Game on!

Speaking of games, I love to play Scrabble. It was time to combine that old favorite with a potential new one, and after researching a few recipes I set out on my Arancini Adventures.

The first challenge was a lack of Mozzarella in our fridge, but I had a bag of Italian five-cheese blend left from an ‘Italian’ dish I’d made for The Man Of Few Words the other night. Out of necessity (and/or desperation) I squeezed that shredded cheese into stuffable-size “balls.” Not quite as authentic as Mozzarella cubes, but I’ve been known to do things the hard way.

The next obstacle was Italian bread crumbs. All I had in the pantry were plain, and gluten-free to boot. I wondered if they’d yield the golden, deep-fried results I hoped to achieve? FYI, folks in the South aren’t squeamish about dunking food in hot oil and there’s a first time for everything — plus, I’m blessed with low cholesterol. A sprinkle of garlic powder and a tablespoon of Italian seasoning transformed them into “Italian” bread crumbs in no time at all.

As for leftover rice, I keep it on hand in the fridge at all times. I could very happily live on beans and rice for the rest of my life! But, today’s stash was destined to become Arancini. However, there’s no need to go to as much trouble as I did; see the recipe below. 

Arancini

(recipe adapted from Just A Taste — grazie!)

1 cup cooked sticky white rice (Uncle Ben’s was specified; I used “plain white”)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 large eggs

4 cubes fresh Mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Italian-style bread crumbs

Oil for frying

Marinara sauce for dipping

  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan or deep fat fryer to 375 F.
  2. Meanwhile combine rice, Parmesan, and 1 egg. Use your hands to mix.
  3. Form the Arancini by squeezing 1/4 portion of the rice mixture around each Mozzarella cube.
  4. Whisk remaining egg in a bowl, dip the Arancini into it, then roll in Italian breadcrumbs. Shake off excess and set aside.
  5. When oil reaches 375 F, fry two Arancini at a time, turning frequently until golden brown.
  6. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining Arancini.
  7. Serve with warmed marinara sauce. (Or, a glass of Prosecco… heavenly!)

Loving appetizer adventures — authentic or not,

~ 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

In My Kitchen ~ February 2018

Winter White Crocks

In My Kitchen… I haven’t played for the last month or two — apologies to all — due to life “in flux.” My mother’s health took a downward turn in early December and I’m doin’ the best I can from 750 miles away to take care of her. And me…

Unexpected bargains such as this pair of crocks in winter white brightened my world, as well as my kitchen. (Great for chili or stew in our neck o’ the woods!) Sometimes you have to go “back to the basics” to sustain yourself.

Or, create your own light….

Bakers Rack 2

In My Kitchen… I festooned (don’cha LOVE that word?) my baker’s rack with lights over the holidays and decided to leave ’em up year round. I grin when I plug ’em in!

Behind that is my kitchen paint ala grey completed by The Man Of Few Words. I’ve teased him for years about “not noticing” — Christmas decorations, redecorating in general, or me, lol. His alternate nickname is “Mr. Oblivious” 

Last weekend I came home after running errands and didn’t “notice” he’d finished painting the kitchen — all of the places I couldn’t reach — until Monday! (Talk about eating “humble pie”… anyone have a good recipe?) Here are a few other views  — minus the dishes in my sink. :)

 

In My Kitchen… (or close to it…) is another “light” in my life.

CardinalWhen my son visited in December he gave me this beautiful Cardinal lamp. Even though it’s in my office (adjacent to my kitchen) I spend lots of time in there dreaming up recipes or printing off yours! I love its inherent meaning. My late sister said if she ever came back as a “bird” she wanted to be a cardinal because they’re so cheerful. (She was a redhead, to boot!) Sneak preview

In My Kitchen… is a preview of the tile back splash I planned to install behind my stove. (DIY projects are on stand-by until further notice…) It’ll pick up on my “basic black”  stove & fridge (xo), the sedate colors in our floor covering, and also add a splash of color “reflecting me.”

Look for your light and SHINE it whenever you can.

This post is part of a world-wide gathering of kitchens graciously hostessed by Sherry Mackay of Sherry’s Pickings. Please click on the link for inspiration in your kitchen or add your own to ours by the 10th of this month. Fun and friends await!

Enjoying “light” — and life day by day,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ December 2017

In My Kitchen… Gumby (my alter ego) lives on via a repeat photo I’ve posted through the years whenever I have less “gumb-tion” than time. ;) December is my busiest month “musically” and I thank you for bearing with me. I LOVE that lil’ green guy and his inherent enthusiasm; he mirrors mine about life, the forth-coming holidays, and FUN in general. Every day deserves the “Gumby wave!”

In My Kitchen… are more blessings than I could possibly count. A lil’ over a month ago a surprise “Boho” box arrived from my friend, Ally, of Ally’s Kitchenand I’ve been enjoying every goodie she sent me ever since. Table linens, towels, aprons, kitchen gadgets, and more. (Photos forthcoming soon.) What fun!

In My Kitchen…  holiday festivity is ensuing. Between practicing the piano, attending myriad rehearsals, volunteering to help those less fortunate (I feel SO blessed), and attending to family (isn’t that what it’s all about?), my days and nights are oft mixed up but I’m grateful for the inspiration and opportunity to “sleep in” whenever my creative limits exceed the clock. Plus, my son is about to grill his infamous burgers. Oh my! Did I mention blessed?

For additional merriment (or summer fun in the Southern hemisphere), please visit Sherry at Sherry’s Pickings for more IMK posts spanning the globe — or add your own kitchen doings by the 10th this month. Merry Christmas!

Enjoying every “Gumby wave” moment,

~ Kim