Another Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Sometimes life can become so cluttered we don’t see the beauty in front of us — or we neglect to look for it.

(See that orange leaf on the left? A promise of more colorful days to come.)

After a recent 7″ inch rainfall and the ensuing runoff from the Canadian River, which feeds into the lake and deposits an assortment of driftwood and such onshore, this lone forerunner of Fall — a harbinger, if you will (love that word) — reminded me that my favorite Season is almost here. Yay!

Here’s another couple of looks courtesy of our neighbors’ yards.

Thanks for the peace, y’all!

Ahhhhh….

Then there’s the tree below. What an interesting life it must have led to leave such scars… wish I knew its story. I have plenty of scars of my own — we all do. Do tell! Someday I may even write about my own.

On the homefront, two trees in our front yard perished in the fire five years ago (going on six), but they’re such bird sanctuaries we haven’t had the heart to cut them down. (Mother Nature seems to take care of that one branch at a time.) Pictured below is a resting place for woodpeckers, warblers, chickadees, bluebirds, blue jays, cardinals, hummingbirds, thrashers — even turkey vultures — and more.

Wherever you are (in the big city or a rural retreat) notice the BEAUTY around you. Ignore any ongoing “clutter” and appreciate your life.

Most of all, “Keep On The Sunny Side.” If you’ve never listened to that song or read the lyrics, please click on the link above. Beauty and the promise of more colorful days ahead keep me goin’. Hope they do you, too, xo.

Enjoying an unexpectedly beautiful day in the neighborhood,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ September 2020

Hello, dear ones. I haven’t participated In My Kitchen for almost a year — not for lack of interest, but for lack of “new” things to show and tell. At this stage of the game I don’t need much, but every once in awhile I run across something interesting. Thank you to Sherry’s Pickings for another opportunity to join in the fun. If you have culinary interests — or if you’re curious — please click on her link above for a global tour of ingredients, storytelling, and delightful folks who love to cook. I discover something new every time I tune in.

In My Kitchen… is/was today’s repast: a Fried Egg Florentine with Crispy Shallots and Goat Cheese. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt inspired to fix something “fancy” for myself, but today was the day. (SO good…) Don’t neglect to nurture you.

In My Kitchen… is a new set of cookware. I wasn’t planning on replacing the old set, but I was frustrated by their strainer-style lids and pour-spout pan edges. A good seal is tantamount to great flavor. One day while I was watching a TV talk show (a rare occurrence) they featured a “deal of the day” — a set of professional-grade Cuisinart pans for a ridiculously low price. Who am I to argue with signs? Did I hit the order button immediately? Nope. I did a lot of research and read the reviews. Hundreds of them.

It’s funny what folks complain about. “Everything sticks.” (Heat up those induction-bottomed pans gradually.) “Too many spots.” (Ever tried a cotton dish towel?) “I only hand wash them.” (It’s doubtful professional chefs take the time — the pans are stainless steel and they clean up just fine in the dishwasher.) “Wish they had clear lids.” Seeing isn’t believing. Trust your instincts — or practice some more. Frankly, I was thrilled with their flat restauant-style lids. Long live the diner days…

Now if I only had more folks to cook for besides The Man Of Few Words ‘n’ me — hello, lake neighbors!

In My Kitchen… is a bottle of Jalapeno Honey. Not only is it great for glazing grilled chicken or pork chops, it also makes for a lovely salad dressing. A splash of white balsamic vinegar and EVOO followed by a drizzle of that golden nectar results in some mighty fine eatin’ without the fuss of making a vinaigrette. Heavenly indeed!

In My Kitchenare other “new” or rediscovered recipes: Kasbah Chicken Skewers (courtesy of Ally’s Kitchen cookbook), fresh-caught Gulf shrimp (before Hurricane Laura hit), and the Best Fluffy, Flakey, Buttery Biscuits Ever thanks to a previous IMK hostess, Maureen Shaw, who said “no need to acknowledge me for the recipe.” Thank you kindly, ma’am, but I like to give credit where it’s due.

Best Fluffy, Flakey, Buttery Biscuits Ever — thanks, Maureen!

(My recipe is for a half-batch; double and cut ’em into whatever shape suits you.)

1 cup all purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

1/4 cup (4 Tbsp.) cold butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes, plus extra to melt and brush on top before or after baking (see below)

1/3 cup milk

1-1/2 tsp. honey

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender until mixture is pea-sized.

Stir in milk and honey until dough comes together. (Don’t overmix.)

Dump onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times. (I just kneaded it in the bowl — no counters to clean)

Pat with your fingers to about 3/4-inch high. (I saved a step — and more counter cleaning — doing that on the parchment-lined sheet pan.)

Cut with a biscuit cutter, tin can, or glass, but don’t use a seesaw motion as the biscuits won’t be as high — or use a chef’s knife and cut into squares. Optionally, let them rest twenty minutes before baking or not. (I opted for the second option in both cases.)

Separate biscuits 2-inches apart, or 1-inch apart if you like softer edges. (I did and do.) Brush with melted butter if desired. (I waited until the end.)

Bake 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven to a cooling rack and brush tops with melted butter. Serve immediately or cool completely and freeze the rest. Bring on the sausage gravy or breakfast biscuits!

In My Kitchenthings are pretty much status quo since the last time I touched base (thank heavens) — making the most of what I have and whatever we’ve been blessed with — an integral part of IMK. I feel blessed to state that, considering hunger is a huge problem here and worldwide. Feed your family — yourself — and a few other folks while you’re at it. (Please contribute to your local food pantry, too.) Every lil’ bit helps.

Enjoying “new” blessings,

~ Kim

Friendships Renewed

Just tried to re-post a “blast from the past” since I don’t have anything new to report these days. (Blame it on Covid-19 and contentment.) I know WordPress offers a way to do that, but I haven’t figured out how yet. So, I’m teasing you with a photo of Old Boy (our Great Blue Heron) and hoping you’ll click on the following link to see what I’m up to. Some things never change, including ongoing friendships.

https://alittlelunch.com/2012/06/05/friendship-renewed-rhapsody-in-blue-iv/

If you’re feeling so inclined, please look up my other Rhapsody in Blue posts in the sidebar under “search.” Can’t believe it’s been that long since I wrote them, but Life On The Lake has stayed pretty much the same. Feeling blessed!

So, how are YOU doing during the pandemic? What are your greatest challenges so far? What’s been your greatest solace? (Please share.)

Other than cooking, cleaning, and keeping myself amused — reading is a HUGE plus — I’ve been hanging out and enjoying whatever God and Nature have to offer. How about you? Are you okay? I care about YOU!

Hoping this lil’ bit of PEACE was a bright spot in your day.

Enjoying solace — and friendship — at the lake,

~ Kim

Do More Of What Makes You Happy

Prior to last month’s shelter-in-place orders going into effect (aka: lockdowns, quarantines, or stay-at-home mandates re: Covid-19) I visited a lovely local shop and picked up several notepads for future gift giving. Not only did they offer upbeat sayings, they included a color-coordinated spatula. (Some folks call them “scrapers” — in this case a mini-scraper — but I still call them “spatulas” no matter what size.) Figured they’d come in handy for ekeing out the last of whatever folks were trying to use and was cheered by the postive message. Apologies to whoever coined the logo above; I’ve seen it a number of times so I figured it was “public domain.” May you reap your reward in heaven for such an uplifting thought! Thank you.

Little did I know how important that phrase would become in the coming months. These days we’re all trying to reduce/re-use/recycle bits and bobs at the bottom of the bottles lurking on our fridge shelves. Truthfully, they’ve escalated to even more importance than we ever could’ve imagined. One more ounce of flavor = another meal. For those suffering from food shortages, my prayers are with you. I feel entirely blessed to have enough (so far) and the means to splurge now and then. I also continue to donate to our local food shelf and I hope other folks do, too.

Mother’s Day came and went. My annual tradition usually includes making something with lobster (don’t I wish?) but it wasn’t meant to be this year. Frozen shrimp was the only seafood alternative. (Does anyone else dread going to the grocery store until absolutely neccesary like I do?) Still, I was overjoyed that they carried some sort of crustacean. I also had a recipe in mind…

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

(adapted from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything)

1 large clove garlic (I used 1 tsp. refrigerated minced garlic)

1 T. Kosher salt (his recipe specified “coarse salt”)

1/2 tsp. sweet paprika

1/2 tsp. hot paprika

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice

15 to 20 medium-sized shrimp, peeled & deveined with tails intact (I used the frozen/thawed equivalent)

  1. Mince garlic with salt until fine. Add both paprikas and blend well.
  2. Stir in lemon juice and EVOO to make a paste. (I transferred the above to a bowl before making the paste.)
  3. Add shrimp; mix gently to coat thoroughly.
  4. Allow to marinate for a few minutes or up to 1 hour.
  5. Preheat grill (or broiler) to high. Place shrimp skewers as close as possible to heat source.
  6. Grill (or broil) 2-3 minutes per side or until shrimp are pink.
  7. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

I added two skewers of veggies, too — mushrooms, onions, and grape tomatoes — before I tossed the shrimp on the grill (shown slightly “charbroiled” above by the time I got to ’em) but they were a delightful addition to my holiday meal. Bonus points for “Chili Lime Fish En Papillote.” (No recipe… just sprinkle fish filets with extra virgin olive oil, S & P, chili powder, and freshly-squeezed lime juice wrapped in foil.) YUM! The rest of the shrimp and veggies are headed for a batch of Jambalaya tonight along with some rice, smoked sausage, and chicken from my freezer. Reduce/reuse/recycle. And, do more of what makes you happy!

For me that involves cooking (or grilling) by the seat of my pants, letting nothing go to waste, watching Jeopardy (even the re-runs lol), reading books, practicing the piano, going outside to snap a photo now and then, writing letters, keeping “the castle” clean for TMOFW, and hopefully posting an upbeat message whenever I’m so inclined.

Be safe and well, my friends, xo.

Enjoying present-day life despite the ongoing restrictions,

~ Kim

Did I mention dancing?! What makes YOU happy these days?

Fried Rice and Another Flowergram

With everything that’s going on in our country right now, including food shortages, I’ve refrained from posting “foodie pics” until today. They just didn’t feel right under the present circumstances. (No offense to those of you who have — thanks for the recipe ideas, too.) I stopped counting Flowergrams after my recent post… the less “statistics” or advice the better.

However, since I’m faced with the same shortages as you are and know how to stretch a meal, I thought I’d share a supper: Fried Rice. (Chop sticks not included.)

Whatever brings you JOY and/or feeds you ‘n’ your family!

This particular batch involved water chestnuts, yellow onions, green onions, part of a red pepper (the rest was reserved for omelets), frozen peas (briefly steamed), and a scrambled egg seared in sesame oil. FYI, I used vegetable oil to start things out, so as not to overwhelm the final dish with the sesame oil flavor. A lil’ goes a long way! Feel free to add a splash of soy sauce and/or gluten-free tamari at will, too.

Rice has long been a staple of the world. Folks’ lives depend on it! Often paired with fish, Beans ‘n’ Rice is a favorite dish o’ mine, too. Gotta love cross-cultural cooking.

Ironically, I forgot to include any meat (supposedly on the endangered list, too, or so “they” say), but my hubby ‘n’ I didn’t miss it at all. It was hot, hearty, and healthy, plus it filled us up — and then some.

Last, but not least (and owing to the predominant color scheme of the day…) here’s a rose that bloomed despite our stormy weather.

Enjoying savoring blessings — foodie, floral, or otherwise,

~ Kim