It’s What’s For Dinner

It’s no secret I love living in Oklahoma, but did you know I’ve always wanted to be a chuckwagon cook?

Folks who feed the masses with cast iron pots and pans over a campfire (or on cookstoves like my grandmothers did) fascinate me — not only for their meticulous planning and timing, but for their dedication to quality food.

I doubt I’ll realize that dream now (being somewhat “old-er” and rather fond of my kitchen at the lake) but there’s one thing I emulate on a regular basis: quality food begins with quality ingredients.

Introducing McCutchen’s Cattle Call Ranch out of Checotah, Oklahoma. The name “Cattle Call” comes from a Country & Western song written by Tex Owens — made famous by Eddy Arnnold and many others — even Elvis.

You can’t go wrong with a name like that, or their beef. Locally processed and sold by whole, 1/2, or 1/4, their packages include steaks, roasts, short ribs, hamburger, and more. Ranch-raised with the utmost care, these folks put a lot of hard work into their product and it shows. Better yet, it tastes like it! (For ordering information, please email cattlecallranch@outlook.com)

Quick disclaimer: I don’t usually plug products here — it’s for FUN, not profit — but the Cattle Call Ranch gave me a package of ribeyes and hamburger to try, and what’s a wanna-be chuckwagon cook to do?

BEEF… it’s what’s for dinner. Break out your cast iron skillet and get ready to ring the dinner bell.

Enjoying some mighty fine vittles,

~ Kim

Fourth of July Frolics

Take one sassy slice of quiche…

add Albondigas (Mexican-style meatballs ala Ally’s Kitchen)…

plate ’em up (patriotically, if you’re so inclined) and ENJOY!

Many thanks to those past & present who gave us the freedom to do so, xo.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Last night we kicked off the weekend with an outdoor gathering on our neighbors’ deck — the first time we’d “partied” since the pandemic started. Social distancing, storytelling, and smiling resulted, not to mention satisfied bellies. Besides quiche and mini-meatballs, our hostess served a swoon-worthy penne pasta with grilled chicken drenched in a vodka cream tomato sauce. Can we say holiday happiness?

The Man Of Few Words only lasted an hour, having forewarned me his bedtime was 7:00 o’clock. (He’s on “trucker time” never mind holiday weekends or invitations.)

I stayed until 10:00!

What a treat to visit with neighbors once again, watch fireworks around the lake, and sip a cocktail or two with friends. After I walked home I bid TMOFW a silent “goodnight kiss” and sat on our deck to watch more fireworks, fireflies, and an almost-full moon for another hour. Blessings!

This morning told a different story…

Our fishing trip at the crack of dawn (never mind what time I went to bed…) was cancelled by unexpected/unpredicted thunderstorms. Lightning flashed, thunder rumbled, and waves/whitecaps kicked up, thus preventing us from reeling in potential lunkers. (Oh well!) We needed the rain.

Plan B: We enjoyed coffee on the deck between lightning bolts, I made him breakfast (bacon, eggs, & fried potatoes), put the finishing touches on my prelude for tomorrow morning’s church service (SO blessed to “work” from home), and weeded the railroad ties by our driveway. Sometimes you just have to roll with it.

Speaking of “rolling with it”…

Here’s the recipe for my quiche. It was gone faster than a lightning bolt.

Kim’s Quiche Lorraine

1 (9″) unbaked pie shell (see recipe below)

6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled

1 c. grated Swiss cheese

4 eggs, beaten

2 c. half & half (light cream)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

Dash of hot sauce (Frank’s Red Hot or Louisiana)

Freshly grated nutmeg (garnish)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Arrange crumbled bacon and Swiss cheese in an unbaked pie shell.

Beat eggs, half & half, and seasonings; pour into pie shell. Sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Bake for 30 more minutes and do the “jiggle” test. You’ll “see” when it’s set; if in doubt, insert a knife into the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done.

Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve.

My Tried and True (with FAB reviews) Pie Crust

1-1/3 c. all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. Crisco (plain, not butter-flavored)

2 Tbsp. cold milk

Stir together flour and salt. Cut in Crisco with two butter knives until pea-sized crumbs form. Continue with a pastry blender until small crumbs form. Sprinkle milk over the top; blend with a fork until the pastry forms a ball.

NOTE: You may have to add more (or less) milk depending on the humidity — your hands are the best judge. Don’t be afraid to squish it together with your fingers! I frequently abandon the fork and rely on the “hands-on” method.

Form the dough into a disk, place between two sheets of waxed paper (no clean up — easy peasy!), and roll into a circle. The thickness will depend on what you’re baking — thinner for quiche; thicker for a meat pie/pierogie.

Peel off top side of waxed paper and center crust over pie plate. “Ease” it into the plate, trim the excess crust with a paring knife, and crimp edges. Proceed per the recipe above. (Double recipe for a two-crust pie.)

FYI, the leftover pie crust trimmings make fabulous “pie crust cookies” spinkled with a lil’ sugar and cinnamon, or cobbler topping or mini-pies.

What a wonderful weekend it’s been so far! Wishing you the same. Be safe and share when you can.

Oops… the next monsoon is about to start (this one was predicted) so I better hit “publish” before my internet shuts down. Take care.

Enjoying socializing, cooking, writing, and baking again,

~ Kim

More Miracles (aka Hummingbirds)

My hubby seems to have a knack for taking pics of the local flora and fauna, as I may have mentioned earlier.

This particular hummingbird variety remains unidentified, but there it was when I uploaded photos on my camera. (FYI, TMOFW tends not to “tell me” until later or I ask him about them.)

Talk about humility.

A few more “blurs” he managed to capture as it was coming and going…

(Again without a tripod.)

I hope his steady handiwork brings JOY to your day. It did mine!

Enjoying the unexpected and TMOFW as always,
~ Kim

An Ode to 2020 and Beyond

Today I come to you with 365 posts to my credit. A whole year’s worth of blogging. (Never mind it took nine years to do it.) Frankly, I thought I’d have a best-seller under my belt by now, too, but life goes on and goals get revised.

Living life well is my most important priority this year.

One thing I’ve learned along the way is to keep writing even if you hit the “delete” button more often than “publish.” The ability to detect B.S. is also an acquired skill. :) Write everything down. Your thoughts matter — so do mine and everybody’ else’s — read them with an honest heart and an open mind. Edit and/or delete as needed.

When you give thoughts the space they need, you’ll also be able to discern whether to take them seriously or not. Use your time wisely. To those who have the gift of posting regularly, I applaud and admire you. Eventually I plan to emulate you. Thanks for the inspiration! Well-written thoughts tickle my soul. Meanwhile…

Eat well to sustain yourself.

Pictured above are two cooking creations o’mine: Neopolitan Meatballs with Ragu (courtesy of Milk Street magazine‘s Jan/Feb 2020 issue) and Brandied Mushroom Pate’ pasta — the result of repurposing leftovers from a beloved dish after sharing the original pate’ with pals at a pre-holiday gathering. (Click on the links for recipes.)

Life is better… tastier… when you share it with the ones you love.

Noodles are such a comfort food for me — evidence of my Czech heritage, too — even if I have to eat the gluten-free version. FYI, these are photos of my hubby’s serving — my GF noodles fell apart, but they tasted good, even if they didn’t photograph well. Cook what your heart and stomach crave and you’ll live a much happier and fulfilled life. Punting is allowed! Do what works for YOU.

Mostly, I just wanted to say hi and Happy New Year. Love y’all!

Are you living life WELL this year and beyond? Do tell.

Enjoying “2020 vision” at the lake,
~ Kim

Mixed Berry Crumble Dessert

Once a fixture on kitchen counters everywhere (at least where I grew up) cannisters stored the “basics.” Flour, sugar, coffee, and tea. What do you store in yours?

These days mine house rice in alphabetical order: Arborio, Basmati, Jasmine, and White or Wild. FYI, I eat a lot of rice. Which made me think. Sometimes life can become so compartmentalized that you risk missing the big picture. Reality isn’t organized. Life either. Do NOT attempt this thought process at home.

A few mornings ago my day started out with a shimmering falling star streaking across the sky, accompanied by a stellar cup o’ Joe — followed by a spectacular sunset that evening — followed by a glass of Cabernet. Some events are meant to be random. Unexpected. Divine. Like this dessert. (Even though I had to dig out the “basics” from another set of cannisters in the recesses of my pantry.)

Mixed Berry Crumble

(adapted from Yummly who adapted it from Cooking Classy, with a few adaptations by moi)

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided (plus a lil’ extra)

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tsp. lemon zest

1 large egg yolk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup salted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

2 tsp. cornstarch

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 cups fresh berries or frozen mixed berries, thawed (I used a combo of frozen blueberries & sliced strawberries w/a sprinkle of sugar so they’d macerate…)

1 Tbsp. raw turbinado sugar (I used granulated sugar; fresh out of turbinado)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and generously butter an 8 x 8-inch baking dish; set aside.

Whisk flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon peel in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and vanilla.

Cut egg yolk mixture and chilled butter cubes into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, fork, or your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs. (I tried all three options just for fun.)

Gently press a little over half of the mixture into the prepared pan to form a crust.

Combine cornstarch and remaining sugar in a separate bowl. ( More dishes, but prevail.)

Combine cornstarch mixture with fruit (fresh or frozen) until thoroughly coated.

Pour berry mixture over crust and top with remaining flour mixture.

Sprinkle turbinado sugar (or plain ol’ granulated) over the top.

Bake in preheated oven 35-38 minutes until top is golden brown. (Personally, I was more concerned with the bottom crust over-baking so I adjusted the oven rack to the upper 1/3 of my oven midway through and watched and “smelled ” until it was deemed done.)

Remove from oven, cool completely on a wire rack, and serve as is or with ice cream.

Refrigerate leftovers (if any) in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

SOOOO good! Or at least I’m told.

By the way, here’s that sunset.

Talk about just desserts.

Enjoying pondering cannisters and living an “uncompartmentalized” life,

~ Kim