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

Extraordinary Evenings

Every day that ends with a sense of contentment is a good day whether I accomplish anything or not. Sunsets seem to affirm that. (We’re here to witness, share, and be, folks — not just “do”.) I grew up ingrained with a “doing” mindset and my self-worth was often measured by how much I got done. It’s taken me decades to get past that primordial training. Last year I put my life on hold to take care of my family, and as a result, I put The Man Of Few Words (“our” life… my life?) on hold for over six months, took an unpaid leave of absence from my job, and contended with limited cell phone signal,  almost no internet (save for my son’s tablet), and a Minnesota winter.

I was a mess when I got home.

It’s taken almost a year to regain my sense of “self”, feel the slightest modicum of creativity, and forge ahead with “my” life — or at least what I formerly envisioned it to be — while handling ongoing phone calls, daily crises, paperwork, and myriad “to-do’s” once I got home. Old habits die hard and fatigue can play funny tricks on your brain — not to mention sap your strength and leave you feeling hopeless.

Yet, I don’t.

Every day back at the lake is a stellar day… followed by an extraordinary evening. (Even when I don’t do a gosh darn thing!) Sometimes I just need to absorb it all. Contentment reigns.

During your tenure on the planet you’ll oft be presented with challenges you don’t feel qualified to face. “Buck up, buttercup” and face ’em anyway! There’s a lesson to be learned and life goes on. Things will gradually become sharper and clearer, even if you’ve had to put you (and/or your “envisioned” life on hold for unprecedented/unanticipated lengthy stretches and you question every decision.) Eventually, it will all make sense, Or, as TMOFW has oft encouraged me (while I wondered aloud about my sanity and ability): “When God wants you to be doing something else, He’ll let you know.” In the meantime, it’s segueing gently between my obligations and my dreams… being aware… and taking care of myself. (Even if it’s just looking at a sunset.)

As if to say “amen” to that thought, my poetic friend j.i. kleinberg recently published this poem entitled The Evening.

found poem © j.i. kleinberg ~ The Evening

After “all of the above”, this is how my life has been lately… halfway between my dreams and reality… with a lot of “blue” up for consideration.

Enjoying re-configuring life at the lake,

~ Kim

Rhapsody In Blue VIII

There are two kinds of fishermen on the lake. (Three, counting vicarious photographers.) Not only do we rely on serendipity, we thrive on hope. Here’s to the souls anticipating the “catch of the day” by whatever means.

A few years back, I’d climb down the thirty-foot drop to shore over uneven rocks and toss in my “hook, line, and sinker”. These days I have to be cautious about my balance — particularly my inner balance. While I may not be able to do what I “used to”, it doesn’t deter me from having fun.

Life is a series of compromises.

Figuring out the best one for you — sometimes daily — requires a knack similar to fishing, a small dose of humility, a huge dose of gratitude, and a heapin’ helpin’ of self-awareness and self-acceptance. For now, “watching” suits me just fine.

South side

Ever had to give up an integral part of yourself (temporarily or permanently) to deal with “life”? How did you cope? Did you have fun? Do tell.

Enjoying uncompromising pleasure,

~ Kim

Potato and Manchego Mini-Quiches with Greens

Mini Quiches

Spending time with loved ones and friends is on everybody’s priority list these days, or at least I hope it is. (So is taking care of yourself as best you can when life’s “busy.”)

Thumbing through a back issue of Eating Well, their Muffin Tin Quiches caught my eye. Not only were those smoky, cheesy, potato-and-spinach-filled gems screaming my name, make-ahead suggestions were offered. But, how to avoid the milk and smoked Cheddar? Culinary creativity ensued. (Original recipe notes in parentheses below.)

I can have my quiche and eat it, too, yay!

Potato and Manchego Mini-Quiches with Greens (adapted from Eating Well January/February 2017)

4 slices of hickory smoked bacon (the recipe didn’t call for bacon, but ya know…)

1 Tbsp. bacon drippings (or EVOO)

3/4 c. diced red-skinned potatoes (skin on), 1/4″ diced

1/2 c. red onion, finely diced

1/4 tsp. salt

1 (5 oz.) container Green Girl Organic Super Greens: red and green Swiss chard, arugula, spinach, and tat soi (or 3/4 c. fresh baby spinach)

4 large eggs

1/4 c. chicken stock (or milk)

1/2 c. shredded Manchego (or smoked Cheddar) cheese

1/4 tsp. smoked paprika (omit if using smoked Cheddar)

Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt

Preheat oven to 325º F. Coat a six-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.

Fry bacon in a large skillet until crisp. (Reserve drippings.) Transfer slices to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Crumble and set aside for garnish.

Return 1 tablespoon bacon drippings to same skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, onions, and salt. Stir frequently until potatoes are softened, about 5 minutes. Add greens (or spinach); drizzle with an additional tablespoon bacon drippings (or EVOO) if needed to prevent sticking. Toss with tongs until the greens are slightly wilted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, grated cheese (whichever), chicken stock (or milk), and smoked paprika (omit if using smoked Cheddar) ’til combined. Stir in potato mixture. Season with freshly ground pepper and sea salt. Divide evenly into prepared muffin tin. Bake 25 minutes or until set; cool 5 minutes. Remove quiches from muffin cups and garnish each with crumbled bacon before serving.

Per Eating Well these can be made ahead. Wrap (individually) in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to three days or freeze up to one month. To reheat: remove the plastic, wrap in a paper towel, and microwave on high 30-60 seconds.

I haven’t tried the frozen option yet. (I ate them in three days!) They “nuked” just fine. I’m looking forward to serving a big batch to our loved ones and friends — forgot to mention this adaptation was a “half batch” — TMOFW doesn’t eat “greens”, lol! (Double the recipe at will.) Most likely I’ll reheat larger batches in the oven on low heat covered with tinfoil. Ingredients aren’t the only things I adapt!

Take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Brunch is Served

Enjoying brunch three days in a row,

~ Kim

 

Gently Reclaiming My Turf

dawn

This past week I went on my first walkabout in over two years (unmitigated life-events notwithstanding) with a sincere desire to reconnect with “my” landscape.

Dawn was ushered in by a pastel sunrise and I couldn’t resist exploring.

Viewing the lake from afar is lovely, but up close and personal restores my soul.

geese

Ma and Pa Goose escorted me the first fifty yards, honking furiously and strutting indignantly. (Must be a nest nearby.) After spontaneous flight the shore was mine.

This time of year the lake is the least colorful and most hopeful — a wait’n’see kind of attitude that initially appears unimpressive cloaked in muted tan, brown, and gray — but, there’s SO much more to see once you get past your first impression.

Shapes. Shadows. Surfaces.

Treasures lurk beneath!

So far I haven’t stumbled upon anything of value yet (nor the hundreds of lures TMOFW and I have “donated” to the lake over the years), but this was priceless.

Beauty and serenity — not to mention self-worth — are in the eye of the beholder. I hope you recognize yours, xo.

peaceful-shoreline

Transient residents are welcome, too, to tell the story of the ever-shifting shoreline tempered by wind, water, and time — a continuous Do Over.

We ought to learn something from that. (Every day’s an adventure!)

Nothing stays the same, but we can bear with it gracefully… even scenically.

sea-serpent

This driftwood castaway reminded me of a sea serpent. (Maybe Lake Eufaula has a Nessie?) Wouldn’t that be something.

Raccoon tracks (among others), shed feathers, and a barnacle-laden rock or two are but a few of the many reminders that this is a shared space… a sacred place.

We respect each other’s right to partake of the the lake. Yay for my turn!

It felt good to wander again… gently.

Enjoying Oklahoma,

~ Kim