Fun At The Lake

Similar to Seinfeld’s hit show this may appear to be about “nothing”, but it means the world to me. Plus, I had FUN playing with some new blog themes thanks to WP. (Still undecided… what do you think?) Although it’s slightly less photogenic — being a photographer ‘n’ all — my images show up sooner or later and it was time for a change.

Today I tackled the Tool Room. After our house/garage fire a few years back we were blessed with a three bedroom abode and I envisioned this as a music room… writing room… respite to view the lake. (NOT!) Wish I’d taken “before” pictures, but life goes on and I’m patient. And, The Man Of Few Words helped.

After sorting through accumulated nuts and bolts (hopefully in a somewhat coherent manner) and wading around “future projects on the floor” I transformed it into this:

The long-neglected “jelly cupboard” (circa 1950’s) from my folks’ basement, which my son loaded into my U-Haul at the last minute as a surprise back in in 2016, acquired a primer coat of paint to cover up my late brother’s artistry with spray paint before he customized his Cuda (you can still see a blotch on the left door… oh well) and I moved a few things into an adjacent closet, threw a sisal rug down on the floor, and  as the ol’ adage goes: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Life is much simpler when that happens. (FYI, it doesn’t just “happen”… DO it!)

I still have a few finishing touches to implement. Grey paint on the floor. Perhaps a Monet on the wall? Overall, it’s progressing. (And my hubby can still find his tools.)

Most of the above was a blessing from the church thrift store (how ’bout that antique anchor shelf to hold my hubby’s fishing lures and filet knife?!), gifts from friends. and/or Amazon discount deals. (Soooo grateful.) Meanwhile I’ve been having FUN making the best use of our space even if it involves re-doing the Tool Room — or putting up with bright blue carpeting in our guest room. Sometimes ya make do. But, it matches the lake for now. Someday…

Wishing all of you a very Happy Easter. Hope you like what I’ve done with the place!

Enjoying life and FUN in progress,

~ Kim

P.S. Tell me what you think of my new blog format. I’m gradually transitioning into writing and trying to be mindful of my words.

In My Kitchen ~ Spring 2019

In My Kitchen… this salad was SO tasty I want to eat it again soon. A new restaurant opened nearby and everybody raved about their food. Of course I had to go see for myself to “read their menu” (aka: I was hungry and ready for someone else to cook for me) but lately my dining out adventures have been limited by my food allergies. (Hold the croutons and cheese, please!)

Imagine my surprise and delight to find a perfectly grilled salmon filet atop a bed of crisp greens, red pepper strips, grape tomatoes, and black beans accompanied by a wonderful lime vinaigrette. The first thing I said after I got home was: “They sure know how to make a vinaigrette!” (So does Chef Mimi — more below.)

In the meantime I was thrilled to find a local eatery that respects my limitations. (More on that below, too.)

In My Kitchen… I’m ready to dive into Spring and yet another salad: Chef Mimi’s “favorite.” Yes, I realize that favorite recipes are subjective and oft relegated to the dubious best-ever category, but her sense of flavor and texture are spot on in my experience. Her recipe also included ingredients I had on hand, except for the red cabbage. I sorted that out of a “coleslaw kit” before I served it to The Man Of Few Words for supper. (Call it hands-on cooking — I’ve resorted to it more times than I can count when our local grocery store was out of a particular ingredient — and two meals out of one ain’t bad.)

FYI, I also substituted brown rice for the barley. Mimi said that was okay — use whatever combination works for you. DO try her vinaigrette though. It was tantalizing! Still enjoying the rest on spinach salads and such.

Click on the link above for her recipe.

In My Kitchen… my cousin Jeanne and her husband Ken (who’ve hosted me on my many treks to Minnesota) arrived for an overnight stay. She presented me with some “bowl cozies” to keep our soup and cereal  warm (or cold) courtesy of her quilting scraps, and a crocheted potholder, too. What a treat to be the recipient of such handmade love! We enjoyed catching up on the deck and munching on appetizers in front of the lake before I served supper. Thank you, xo!

In My Kitchen… is an Irish Apple Cake I’ve made many times. NOTE: the original recipe may have included a lil’ Irish (whisky instead of vanilla) but it’s just as good without the “heritage.” The crunchy top layer is a lovely prelude to the moist, spice-laden cake below and it keeps well and freezes well, too.

Irish Apple Cake (recipe courtesy of my friend, Denise W.)

1/4 c. butter, softened

1 c. sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla (or whisky…)

2 c. diced peeled Granny Smith apples

1/4 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg (I used less because mine was freshly grated)

1 c. flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease an 8″ square baking pan. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat again. Add apples and nuts.

Combine dry ingredients; mix in with a wooden spoon. Mixture will be thick. Spread evenly into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes or until a pick comes out clean.

Remove from oven, cool on a wire rack, and cut into squares.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. (TMOFW says it’s “just right” plain. :)

Sherry MacKay of Sherry’s Pickings has more In My Kitchen adventures to connect your global hearts and kitchens ever since she took over from her predecessors — Celia, Maureen, and Liz. I’m grateful to all of them for the FUN and friendship — not to mention helping re-establish my kitchen four years ago — but, having said that…

I’ve finally decided that IMK fits best into my life quarterly rather than monthly. Welcome to the Spring edition! For now I have everything I need. It’s also Autumn “Down Under” (where Sherry hails from, as do many of the participants), but Spring has sprung here — and in my heart. I’ve put off too many writing deadlines during the past five years and hopefully you can see how colorful my life has become now. It’s time to make that leap of faith…

Whether you’re looking for food, flavor inspirations, or the latest kitchen gadgets, IMK is a reliable source. Thank you all! As for me, I’ll be back with more thoughts soon. Maybe in a letter? Meanwhile enjoy this glimpse of my surroundings, xo.

Enjoying salads, writing, and possibilities,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ March 2019

In My Kitchen… I’m desperately trying to get used to a new computer. (Apologies for my lack of reply on previous posts — it’s been a long three weeks.) Despite not being able to find photos where they once were,  volumes of writing relegated to “obsolete” files and general mayhem, I’m still having FUN. Isn’t that what life is all about? If I can do it, anyone can! Here’s to learning something new.

Meanwhile I acquired a few more kitchen essentials — never mind stating I’ve almost reached my limit. Along came this Aroma multi-purpose vessel in pristine condition. Cook, steam, bake, fry, woohoo! Although it isn’t their latest digital version, it works. I also added two salad bowls, a trio of stainless steel ramekins, and a few more meals for The Man Of Few Words and moi.

In My Kitchen… is a quintet of California Olive Oils. To me, they’re like good wine. Their flavor only improves with age. My hubby has also gotten used to my “experimenting.” :)

In My Kitchen… another dear friend asked when I was going to finish my story about Minneapolis. Here ya go, Stan!

Minneapolis is special to me because of so many “firsts” there: First symphony concert. First taste of good wine. (Gotta love those wine-tasting parties in the ’80’s.) Dedicating the plaza at Orchestra Hall to the strains of Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare For The Common Man.” (Yes, I actually went to band camp three times; I was also privileged to perform onstage there and shake Hubert Humphrey’s hand.) First walkabout with my son in Minneapolis’s one-of-a-kind skyline (a big thrill for this small town girl) — Brit’s Pub was our favorite haunt with its rooftop seating, lawn bowling, and stellar menu –food or otherwise. (Mary Tyler Moore’s nearby statue was also a mandatory stop — life is so much better when you throw your hat in the air and do the “twirl!”) First dueling piano performance. First train ride from the Mall Of America to “downtown.” First of many late-night airport pickups when I was in caretaker mode and winter was in full swing (-50 below zero) and our only thought was how to survive the two-hour trip back home. (Walking about was not an option!) I soooo don’t miss the snow and cold. I could go on, but you get it. Great city. Great memories.

Please feel free to click on or join Sherry’s monthly frolics to peruse posts from around the world for more In My Kitchen adventures. Next up…  Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup with Fresh Rosemary, Thyme, and Granny Smith Apples. (Will let y’all know how that turns out with a few tweaks.) Be adventurous. Learn something new!

Enjoying old memories and new recipes,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ January 2019

This month our In My Kitchen hostess — Sherry Mackay of Sherry’s Pickings — deemed January as IMK Lite, so I’m cutting to the chase…

In My Kitchen… these five-bladed scissors (above) are a delight for snipping herbs. Downsizing dill has never been so speedy!

In My Kitchen… is a long-waited dishwasher. The one that came with our house was twenty years old. It quit in October. A repairman was called and the earliest he could come was November. Parts were ordered, but one was out of stock and Thanksgiving came and went. By early December I was frustrated, although I didn’t mind washing dishes by hand and the old dishwasher served nicely as “the world’s largest dish draining rack.” The week before Christmas I cancelled the service order, bought this one, and The Man Of Few Words installed it in less than two hours — including replacing the floor under it. (Apparently the old girl had been leaking for awhile.) Long story short: I’m blessed by my hubby’s ability to fix anything and the new dishwasher works great.

In My Kitchen… are two ceramic-coated skillets to match a lil’ one I got last year. Scrambled eggs slid right out of it and my other non-stick pans needed replacing. There you have it!

For more global gadgets and ingredients, click on the link to Sherry’s blog (top o’ the page) and discover a world of FUN and flavor.

Enjoying brevity,

~ Kim

New Years Reasons To Smile

Armadillo Risotta with Oven Baked Shrimp Scampi

Recently The Man Of Few Words tripped on his way to work (at 5:00 a.m. in the dark) when his foot caught on an immovable object on our patio. After ascertaining the source of his unexpected imbalance, he cordially offered a greeting: “Hello, armadillo!” It didn’t budge. He finally had to step over it and they both skittered down the drive on their separate ways.

I recounted that story to my son when he arrived in early December and we both chuckled over the odds. Gotta love Okie “critters.” Fast forward to my grocery list.

My son said he’d never tried risotto so I added Arborio rice to my “must haves” intent on making him that wonderfully creamy side dish. Come grocery shopping day, he glanced at the list and asked: “Mom, what’s armadillo rice?”

Frame of reference is everything.

During the past year, I’ve experienced a number of highs and lows in my kitchen and elsewhere (aka: life), but food — really good food — has been a constant source of amusement and solace, not to mention an equalizer in the unexpected chaos. (Sort of like encountering an armadillo in the dark — you never know what to expect — or when.) Have FUN with it!

Enter a newly discovered “online” cookbook… Eating Heart. Goodness gracious, how it spoke my language — family, heart, and SOUL! (With fabulous risotto-making tips, among other things.) My son was pleased with the outcome. I added Shrimp Scampi, for FUN.

To round out the year, I offer a brief glimpse into my tasty existence as of late:

There’s SO much more, but that’s what the New Year is for… Hope. Truth. Inspiration! Will catch up with y’all soon, xo.

Sunset by Tom

Enjoying one or two last sunsets (and really good food) at the lake before 2018,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ October 2017

My new kitchen mat

In My Kitchen… good things are afoot… or under foot. I’m a firm believer in making life comfortable, especially when I’m on my feet. Pictured above is the new floor mat by my “prep” area; the one below resides in front of my stove. (The third one by the sink is “basic brown” and I didn’t want to bore you to tears.)

Some day

In My Kitchen… is this silverware caddy. Flatware caddy? Utensil tray? Whatever you call it, it’s an indispensable part of our daily dining (for lack of a drawer). I found it at a yard sale awhile back, and as they say: “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”

Silverware caddy.JPG

In My Kitchen… things aren’t always so utilitarian. I break out the cloth napkins every now and then and treat folks to a “dolled up” dinner — me, included. Although “ironing” may sound utilitarian, it’s anything but with these aprons cheering up my laundry room. (Thanks, Ally, xo.)

I Love To Iron

In My Kitchen… I felt myself slowing down in September (seasonal lethargy… zzzzz), but now that October’s finally here, the cooler mornings and hints of color are teasing me to go outside and play. Or play In My Kitchen! I recently played around with this recipe… Three Ingredient Flourless Almond Cake. (Originally Walnut Cake… you know me.)

Almond Cake

For more In My Kitchen posts from around the world — as colorful and varied as the Autumn foliage (or Springtime “Down Under”) — please visit our cordial hostess Sherry Mackay at Sherry’s Pickings. Feel free to join in by the 10th of each month, or simply read and revel.

Enjoying playing again,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ August 2017

I’m delighted to be In My Kitchen again. After three cross-country and out-of-state-trips in two months, I came home with lots of memories. And a few goodies, too!

Utensils 2

In My Kitchen… is a set of Acacia wood cooking utensils, a gift from my cousin Barb. They’re beautifully crafted and a joy to use! She also surprised me with Coconut Infused Black Sea Salt and Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt.

 

Last weekend I grilled shrimp marinated in Champagne Orange Balsamic glaze with coconut-infused salt, and a pork loin seasoned with the smoked salt. Goodness!Grilled Goodness.JPG

In My Kitchen… are a pair of potholders crocheted by my cousin Jeanne. Their diagonal design is appealing and the thick layers protect my hands and counter tops. I admire folks who do needlework and I can never have too many potholders — especially ones made with love.Potholders

In My Kitchen… are a set of plates for smaller servings, found at a thrift store for a mere pittance. The bubbles in them inspired me to pick up a bottle of bubbly, too. (Prosecco in this case.) Homecomings and thrift store finds are meant to be celebrated!

 

In My Kitchen… are a few things I made between sojourns. A girl’s gotta eat, ya know! (So does The Man Of Few Words.) He doesn’t mind me cooking separate meals. If Mama ain’t happy… :) Take care of yourself while you take care of others.

Blue plate special on a white plate

“Blue Plate Special” for him

Lime Chicken

Pan-Seared Chicken with Makrut (dehydrated lime leaves) for me

Cookies

Cookies for him

Gluten free Dairy free chocolate cake

GF/DF Chocolate Cake for me

Salad

Heirloom Tomato and Romaine Salad (for both of us!)

This post is linked to Sherry’s Pickings. Once a month Sherry features fun reads and cooking ideas from around the world. Click on the link to see for yourself! (You can add your own kitchen antics by the 10th, too.) I’m blessed by ’em all.

Enjoying being In My Kitchen again,

~ Kim