Orange You Glad It’s Almost 2021?

Orange isn’t a holiday hue, but it’s my favorite color. (Not that you could tell from my wardrobe or our house — there isn’t a speck of it to be seen.) No offense to red and green, but I love orange’s vibrant cheerfulness!

Above and below are a few favorite holiday foods a L’Orange

Plus, a must have book for 2021.

First up are/were these sweet potatoes that graced our Thanksgiving table. They made a repeat performance on Christmas Day, too. Easy, peasy — and orange.

Maple & Pecan Roasted Sweet Potatoes

1 Tbsp. butter or extra virgin olive oil

2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and sliced into 1/4″ rounds

1/3 – 1/2 cup pecan halves and/or pieces (the more, the merrier!)

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter or oil a baking dish and layer with sweet potato slices. Cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour or until a fork easily pierces sweet potato slices. Remove from oven and remove foil. Sprinkle pecans over the top, drizzle with maple syrup, and return to oven uncovered. Bake 15 minutes more. Enjoy!

Then, these beautiful citrus fruits from Texas arrived — a gift from a beloved Aunt in Minnesota. (Thank you!) Originally there were more oranges, but I juiced and zested a few to make her Apricot Nut Bread pictured at the top, plus a batch of my favorite Southern pecans below. Sorry, no photo… but, here’s the recipe:

Orange-Glazed Pecans (courtesy of former pecan grower and fab cook, Linda Lamb)

1 Tbsp. grated orange rind

1/4 cup orange juice

1 cup granulated sugar

4 cups pecan pieces or halves

Combine first three ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. Add pecans. Stir until most of the liquid is gone. Remove from heat and stir until pecans separate and glaze. Pour onto waxed paper to cool. (Ditto on easy, peasy!)

As for the Apricot Walnut Bread, I’m awaiting clarification re: how much sugar to add before I share the recipe. Recently I punted and added the “right” amount (to me) with rave reviews from The Man Of Few Words:

“Now THAT’s some good bread!”

Sometimes he actually speaks. :)

Last, but not least, is a book I ordered from Marc Ensign, whose skill with words (and the bass guitar) I’ve admired for a long time. Please don’t judge his book by its cover, “Dick” is Marc’s neighbor who inspired him (and many others, including me) to brighten the world with kindness, humility, forgiveness, and much more.

Plus, it’s my favorite color!

In just over 100 pages, Marc’s succint writing, storytelling, and humor touched my heart. Everybody needs to read this in 2021! You can order it by clicking here. But, with shipping delays, sell-out stock, and hardcover copies hard to come by these days, you might have to wait awhile for delivery. (Be patient!) It’s well worth waiting for — and reading. “Be A Dick” is a treasure.

I don’t often recemmend things on my blog, but Marc’s book (and the recipes above) are sure to bring you a Happier New Year, or at least a happier outlook on life. We all need that in 2021. Happy New Year!

Enjoying orange at The Lake,

~ Kim

A Slow Roasted Kind of Day

Summer is in full swing here with temps near 100, but today also included an early morning thunderstorm, revisiting old and new kitchen utensils, simmering spaghetti sauce (not pictured), baking a batch of five-cheese garlic toast (also not pictured), and roasting garden-fresh veggies because my oven was going. A good “inside day” with time to regroup and re-evaluate. Thank God for A/C! Hope you’re all cool and comfortable, xo.

I also swept floors (a perfunctory chore I enjoy for its instant gratification), unloaded/loaded the dishwasher, cleaned the fridge, wrote several letters, two thinking of you cards/notes, a birthday card, and answered a couple of emails. Basically, I had the house to myself. Peace and quiet. Sheer bliss! Don’t get me wrong. I miss my hubby when he goes to work, but sometimes a girl needs a lil’ “alone time” — and I’m not one to waste time. All in all, it was a productive and peace-inducing day.

Ahhhh…

Pictured above is my “Toy Box.” (The Land of Lost Toys for kitchen gadgets!) Most of them are/were from my mother-in-law circa 1950’s — potato ricer, et al — but they’re too precious or one-of-a-kind to discard. By now you know I tend to be nostalgic. :)

Over the years I’ve added a few others to the mix due to infrequent use or lack of a place to store them, but it’s always a delight to open the lid to discover what I “shoulda/woulda/coulda” been using. Wonderful innovations, now and back in the day.

Plus, I like mixing things up. Speaking of which…

Here’s my latest kitchen mat — an ergonomic wonder featuring “air pockets” to relieve fatigue. When I think of my Grandma hovering over her ol’ cookstove on a linoleum floor (or worse) I feel entirely spoiled, but grateful. Grandma would have embraced change. And kitchen mats. A very forward-looking lady.

The next one was “just for fun” after I acquired a lil’ wall decor at the Mission store. Gotta love it when themes unexpectedly appear in life.

What are yours saying to you?

Re: garden-fresh veggies, I’m talkin’ new red potatoes, pattypan squash, a head of cauliflower sliced, diced, & drizzled with EVOO, and sprinkled with a variety of flavors — summer savory, marjoram, freshly ground black pepper, pink Himalayan sea salt, and a dash of garlic & onion power — my makeshift version of Herbes de Provence minus the rosemary and lavender. I was too lazy to walk out to our front yard, plus it was pouring buckets. But, I wore my “lil’ French housedress” — or at least I imagine it to be — a cute black & white number trimmed in hot pink. We should all feel so lovely when we cook.

Stirred with a spurtle procured from my aforementioned Toy Box, the golden goodness that resulted will feed me for days to come.

Ditto on ahhhh…

Are you mixing things up? Do tell!

Enjoying slow-roasted days,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ Summer 2019

In My Kitchen… it’s Summertime and the living is easy. (Sing along if you know it!) Roadside farmer’s market stands are popping up everywhere with a vibrant array of vegetables and I feel blessed to have access to their bounty.

My own garden is coming along nicely, too. The tomatoes and cherry tomatoes (front and center) were picked just outside our back door this morning. Although my plot isn’t as large and prolific as most of my friends’, it feels good (and tastes twice as good) to grow my own. The Man Of Few Words and I were also blessed when some of our lake neighbors offered to water everything while we were away over the Fourth of July. Good friends.

Good eatin’ when we got home, too!

In My Kitchen… is (was) a bowlful of Potato Salad with Dill Pickles courtesy of Karen from The Backroad Journal. (It was her mother’s recipe and it was dang good!) Apparently adding dill pickles is a Southern “thang”… a fellow at the Mission recently raved about it and how much he missed that flavor. Guess I know what I’ll be making for our next church potluck dinner. :)

In My Kitchen… I debated whether or not to show some of the kitchen gadgets I’ve acquired since Spring. Most of you probably have them in your kitchens already, but they were new to me and too fabulous not to share. First up, my fish spatulas…

I’ve read about them, pondered how to use one if I had one (and/or how often or where I’d store it), but curiosity finally got the best of me. Plus, The Man Of Few Words keeps catching fish! The one on the left is from Pampered Chef and features a longer oval handle. The one on the right is from T-Fal and has a beveled edge. Which one to keep? I kept ’em both!

A lake girl can never have too many fish spatulas.

In My Kitchen… BLT’s are in progress with my new/used Black & Decker griddle — look away, my vegan and vegetarian friends, sorry! — another “find” at the Mission. I tried to take a photo of just the griddle, but it was rather shy (or difficult) and BLT’s are one of our favorite summer “sammiches.” Plus, it cooks and cleans like a dream. No more spatters, stove jobs, or skillet scrubbing to make one sandwich.

I also tried to depict my infusion pitcher, but the Oklahoma sunlight (and pitcher) wouldn’t cooperate. Right now I’m infusing a batch of Flat Belly Water. Ever heard of it? The first recipe I found called for 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup strawberries, 2 sprigs of rosemary, and a liter of filtered water. Check. Then I did more research.

Also known as “Flat Tummy Water” (and/or the Flat Tummy Detox), many of the recipes required ginger, cucumbers, and mint. The strawberry/blueberry version also seems to be turning out rather “purple-ish muddled-looking.” Now I don’t know who or WHAT to believe! However, I do know that drinking more water — no matter what flavor or color — during the summer is beneficial. Plus, I came home from Minnesota with more “middle” than usual as always (aarrgh!) and consuming fresh fruits, vegetables, and water helps. Do whatever works for you!

Last but not least, In My Kitchen… is this set of dishcloths, a potholder, and a towel that properly depict SUMMER — a vibrant “thank you gift” from a lake guest. (How thoughtful!) May your days be as colorful and unexpectedly blessed, no matter what season.

Thanks, too, to Sherry of Sherry’s Pickings for hostessing In My Kitchen each month, and for being so amenable as to include my seasonal inspirations, xo. I’ve missed you and everyone worldwide there! Looking forward to catching up.

Enjoying lake life,

~ Kim

Christmas Day 2018

All is calm, but not so bright at the lake on December 25, 2018. Impending thunderstorms and overcast skies were the only thing this holiday morn had to offer photographically, however I still found JOY in the stillness and the quiet, muted colors. Hope you do, too! Things don’t always have to be “tinsel and glitter” to enjoy moments of peace.

After I fixed breakfast for The Man Of Few Words (bacon and eggs for him; a Mimosa and a stellar cup of freshly ground coffee for me:) we went for a walkabout ’round the ‘hood to check on our lake neighbors’ homes. All was well, except for evidence of a renegade armadillo who decided to take up residence under one of their houses and who continues to dig up our yards. (Such are the joys of living in rural Oklahoma.)

Ghosts of Christmas Past (and present) also caught my eye…

The Driftwood Trees have been a constant presence in our view ever since we moved here — remnants of former mountains and homes submerged after the huge dam fifteen miles east of us was completed in the 1960’s when Oklahoma’s largest lake was formed. I’ve always wondered what it was like to learn your home was about to be under water (sort of like the scene in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”)

Thankfully, we’ve remained high and dry — even at flood stage.

Still, the mountains in the distance (and valleys far below) give me pause for thought and tons gratitude for living on “The Hill.” Like peoples’ lives, you never know what may lurk underneath. Listen to their stories and they’ll honor yours. Everybody has a story to tell.

Surprisingly, this was the only “color” I discovered today — on Christmas Day. (That, and a delightful bouquet from TMOFW; guess he noticed I’ve been watching every Charlie Brown Special on TV since the holidays began. :)

May your holidays be merry and bright, even on grey days. XO!

Loving LIFE at the lake,

~ Kim

Chocolate Musings

Emergency Chocolate

Writing is chocolate for the soul.

I penned those words nearly ten years ago and I still abide by them.

(Hope you can zoom in on the instructions on my Emergency stash — now an empty box — but hey, some things are worth keeping, including decade old words.)

Lakegirl mug

Now that I’m officially a Lakegirl (woohoo!) I’ve had time to reflect on life and how I’m living it.

Make every day count. Do what makes you happy!

But, serve others with JOY — even if it’s via a random post — or chocolate. ;)

Enjoying LIFE at the lake,

~ Kim