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

In My Kitchen ~ October 2016

ramekins-and-grater

In My Kitchen (at last) I’m HOME. (Hopefully for longer than I’ve been this year.)

My sister used to tease me that I liked anything “shiny, sparkly, pretty, ooooh, ahhhhh.” Guilty as charged. She and I amused many a shopkeeper with our audible admiration. “Shiny, sparkly, pretty, ooooh, ahhhhh” is FUN to say out loud… try it!

I do like baubles… In My Kitchen and otherwise. Especially when they combine form and function. Take this mini-grater (above) to zest citrus, shave grated cheese atop pasta & salads, and/or sliver garlic when I’m not in a “smashing” mood. (I’m soooo in need of TLC… so is my garlic.) You already know how I feel about ramekins., lol. :)  The more, the merrier!

antique-treasires

In My Kitchen… are antique treasures. (Grandma’s flour sifter, scoop, and the cutest lil’ salt & pepper shakers with their matching toothpick holder… not quite as “shiny” but I love their patina and memories.) Grandma had a mega-flour bin — a pull-out, tin-lined cupboard that accommodated a 50-pound bag of flour!

I loved watching her scoop “just the right amount” of flour (without measuring) and shaking her sifter to make homemade kolaches, cinnamon rolls, and bread.

As for the S & P shakers and toothpick holder, they were fixtures on her stove-top. Now, they’re fixtures on mine.

replacements

In My Kitchen are replacements… or rather, a flatware pattern that I liked so much thanks to a church friend who gifted us with a set of four after our fire (hate to bring that up again, but it’s been a reality I’m dealing with til 11/11/2016 when our insurance claim runs out.) Two years… can it be?! Basic utensils are overlooked.

I love ’em! (And my stove and fridge, thanks to YOU… gratitude and hugs.)

My culinary life, health, and HOPE wouldn’t be what it is without ’em!

In My Kitchen… are these aprons. Rick-racked trimmed ala Grandma. You have no idea how much these recent additions mean to me. (Or maybe you do.)

I’m SO grateful for replacements — “treasures” — IMK friends, xo! Hopin’ to get around to everybody’s posts in the next few days as time & unpacking allows.

Many thanks to Celia and Maureen (former hostesses of this monthly forum) and Liz, author of Good Things (our new hostess with the most-est) for sharing your immutable, affable IMK spirits as you adapt to LIFE. (Goodness, aren’t we all?) I love that about this place! Thanks for being “real.” If you’d like to read more IMK posts or share your own kitchen frolics, please contact Liz at the link above by the 10th.

Enjoying being In My Kitchen once again….

~ Kim

Thankful Thoughts

Autumn at the Lake

Perhaps this year (more than most) I have umpteen reasons to be thankful.

Oodles of ’em. Blessings beyond measure!

First and foremost is my health.

When you can’t move the left side of your body (or play piano or type with both hands or walk without dragging one leg) it gives you pause. A loooooong pause. Thanks to a lil’ (a LOT?!) of Divine intervention, I count myself among the miraculously restored.

Then, just when you thought everything that was important in your life (aka the “things” you thought somehow defined you) disappeared in a matter of hours, you begin to assess what’s really important to you. I’m talking’ about memories.

(I’m telling you, it’s memories!)

Make and/or create as many as you can — while you still can — for yourself, your family, and your friends. When it comes down to it, you can’t take it with you — but you can leave a lot behind.

Comfortable seating also helps…

Comfy chairs

After almost a year of parking my tookus on a lawn chair (and squirming midway through a movie) I begin to realize how many folks have less… much less… and my gratitude meter spiked a bazillion notches.

It also made me more discerning about what I really need (or that “w” word… want…) besides the clothes on my back. The day our recliners arrived I nearly did cartwheels in our living room — ever mindful and grateful to HAVE a living room — but I didn’t want to overexert myself.

Sometimes a nap is in order.

A place to rest

This Comfort Zone (since relocated to an adjacent corner) was courtesy of my late sister. I’m ever mindful of and thankful and grateful for it, because I’ll never forget her contribution to MY life (refer to memories above) and it feels like a HUG every time I crawl underneath the covers… ahhhhh. Again, make some memories… you never know who (or when) you’ll touch someone because of it.

Then there’s the “personalization” aspect.

Everybody has their own idea of what rocks their world, hoohah! For me, it’s vibrant colors tempered by neutrals…. a visual shock with a side of sedate. :) While I’m not completely sold on the hue yet, it’s coming along… and it may end up more “paprika” by the time I’m done… this was the first coat.

Accent wall

Since I brought up the topic of RED, I might as well show you my Thanksgiving pumpkin pie early. It’s TMOFW’s favorite pie, and there’s no reason to wait (and/or stress) until Thanksgiving morning to jockey oven space. Plus, I made it the “old fashioned way” with this red-handled egg beater — a  gift from my sweet friend Jurine, xo.

Yup, the manual kind.

Totally less ‘spatters’ that way! Plus, my man is enjoying his “just desserts” a few days in advance — whatever it takes to rock HIS world — and, I don’t have to clean pumpkin pie batter off of every counter top and appliance within a four-foot radius. (Can you relate?!) FYI, I might not be as ambitious about the whipped cream on Thursday… just sayin’.

Pumpkin Pie the old fashioned way

Last, but not least, I’d like to leave you with something unexpected cuz that’s how life has turned out for me. Sometimes a wander through the neighborhood produces a totally unanticipated delight — and something as simple as a late-season dandelion perking up its rowdy head makes me smile. (Remind me to do that more often.)

All of which leaves me counting my blessings and giving heartfelt thanks — for it, and for you.

Isn’t that what “Thanksgiving” is all about?

Autumn Surprise

Here’s one last Autumn look at the lake. It’s been GORGEOUS and I’m grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

I appreciate YOU and your contributions to my memories more than I can adequately express. I love you all!

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Enjoying untold blessings — savoring each & every one,

~ Kim

Flowergram IX

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It’s been awhile since I posted a Flowergram, but whatever this cacophony of purple is in our back yard, it attracts “hummers” (aka hummingbirds) and brings me joy. I hope it does you, too! (Couldn’t resist sharing it, although my feathered friends were a bit too speedy to capture in flight — use your imagination!)

Totally un-floral (but related to lake life) is the state of The Bluff since we came back from our 4th of July sojourn to Minnesota. A huge section broke off and/or sunk in from the previous rains and run-off,  plus we were greeted with 6″ (or more) of rain upon our return. Our “view” is about to change dramatically!

Winds, waves, and ongoing high water have been undermining The Bluff daily and I’m just waiting to hear the “whoosh” when it meets its watery grave… a piece of our lives and history GONE due to unprecedented weather. (The world and its climactic conditions are in flux, and it’s good to be mindful of what that may mean for us.) On a local level, I’d sum it up as: things change — especially people, lives, and ideas — bear with it, go with it, and adapt the best you can. There’s an inspiring simplicity to this stark reality.

Bluff Stuff

On a side note (aka “story”) The Bluff has been a popular spot to catch catfish over the years and it’s not unusual to have late-night visitors lugging poles and flashlights down the slope all hours of the night. (Folks show up sporadically from midnight ’til dawn — prime cat-fishing time — to reel in a lunker or two for dinner the next day.)

I respect that (and hunger) as long as they respect the privilege of “public property.” Yes, I know it’s not “mine” but I take care of it like it is! I picked up trash along the shoreline once for two days, then tied an empty garbage bag to a tree (along with a poster of “photographic evidence,” tee hee) to remind folks not to be flagrant with Nature — or “my” neighborhood. Apparently the point was taken… I haven’t had to pick up trash since then. Win, win.

One recent evening when I was up at 1:30 a.m. (such is the life of a writer ;) I saw headlights bearing down the road, turning onto The Bluff. Let me tell you, they slammed on their brakes pretty darn quick when their front bumper reached that drop-off! Within seconds the wanna-be fishermen shifted into reverse and re-thunk their plans in the time it took to back up, because they were up the road like a shot! (I’m just thankful they didn’t go over the edge… bet they were, too.) Life on the lake is “changeable” — everybody adapts — especially fishermen. And me.

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Whether your flora is blooming locally or not (and fishing is amenable or accessible), remember to “bloom where you’re planted.”

Appreciate life in all of its stages and changes.

And, take care of yourself. (Ma Nature, too, please.) Thanks!

 Enjoying “life in progress” on the lake,

~ Kim

Reflections

Clouds 4

The other day I stopped at a thrift store along the highway to poke around for a bit. (Cheap entertainment.)

On the way in I noticed a small Casio keyboard for sale (the kind with “light up keys” when you play the notes — an oldie, but a goodie) perched on a rickety stand on the dusty dirt “floor” outside. I didn’t pay much attention to it because my mind was on kitchen stuff (a girl’s gotta restock somehow) so I went inside in search of “treasures.”

Not long afterwards, a family came in — Ma and Pa with four young’uns in tow — who proceeded to scramble up and down each aisle in search of the next great “deal.” (Me, too.) Occasionally we bumped elbows and shared smiles and giggles as we went about our singular intended quests.

After I’d procured and paid for my $6.00’s worth of thrift store happiness, I exited the building intent on going home, but the keyboard beckoned…

On a whim (and because it was plugged in), I set my purse and “recycled Walmart bag” on the dirt floor and stood in front of the keys. What would I play?

An elderly gentleman (whom I’d conversed with earlier) was still slung on a bar stool (also for sale) and I wasn’t sure if he was loitering or just keepin’ an eye on things — but his face was weathered like the surrounding Oklahoma landscape and he interested me. He didn’t ask for a “concert,” but his stalwart presence and sense of fun elicited Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” as the optimal piece to play.

Within a few measures of the opening notes, a lil’ girl who reminded me of “Scout” (Atticus Finch’s daughter in “To Kill A Mockingbird” — one of my favorite novels) came running out the door and was glued to my elbow, watching… wondering… listening.

Soon, her three siblings quickly joined her.

Considering the majority of my “audience” was under 13 years old, I switched gears and said: “Here’s one I bet you know.” Then I proceeded to play the ‘Happy Dance’ theme song from the Charlie Brown specials. I love that song. (They seemed to, too.)

More smiles and giggles followed… theirs and mine.

When I finished, the lil’ gal commented: “You’re realllllly good!” and my response was: “Well, I’ve been playing piano for over 50 years now, so I’ve had LOTS of practice.”

(Imagine that… 50 years!)

The old guy just grinned, probably more about my age than my piano-playing prowess.

After that, we parted company — four youngsters and an “oldster” (or two) bolstered by strains of music from my past — music which I no longer have (everything burned up in the fire), but God graciously granted me “recall” for that impromptu concert. Playing from ‘memory’ was never my strong suit; it’s a discipline my piano teacher did her best to instill in me, and which others highly recommend for ‘freedom of expression.’ Unfortunately, the best I ever did was to comply by memorizing a piece or two for the requisite “piano recital” every Spring. (I need to work on that again.)

But, on occasion — on this occasion — I “remembered” — if only for the look of sheer joy on those young (and old) faces. Music was meant to be shared.

Back in my “hey day”(a half-century ago!), my piano teacher had aspirations for me to become a concert pianist — but life turned out otherwise. Now, it’s merely a ‘reflection’ of my past — and probably why I love the reflections on the lake (and music) so much… and Debussy to this day. Or the Charlie Brown theme. :)

Although I don’t have my old music books any more, I still enjoy sharing “music.” (Especially when youngsters — and “oldsters” are involved.)

Here’s one I used to play, illustrated by lovely Monet paintings (another love) and gorgeous real-life photos. Enjoy!

Debussy’s Reflections In The Water

Sunset before the storm 1

Whether or not life works out the way you (or others) once dreamed, you can still make a difference.

Enjoying “Reflections In The Water,”

~Kim