Autumn in Golden Increments

Autumn arrived subtly this year. Then, BAM!

However, yellow seemed to be the primary color of the day.

Golden moments.

Ahhh…

And then, there was this…

A lovely bouquet from The Man Of Few Words with yellow roses to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary.

I love Autumn. And him. May your season(s) be equally and colorfully blessed, xo.

Enjoying life’s golden moments,

~ 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

In My Kitchen ~ October 2019

Welcome to my Autumn edition of In My Kitchen. Each month Sherry MacKay of Sherry’s Pickings hostesses a global gathering of food lovers and it’s such a blessing to tap into their know-how, recipes, kitchen gadgets, ingredient discoveries, well-written stories, fabulous photos, and world travels. (Click on the green link for more.) Even though I only participate seasonally, it’s all good. Tasty, too!

In My Kitchen… are Emmy’s Organics Coconut Cookies and an antique cup and saucer that once belonged to my piano teacher. The cookies are a gluten free, dairy free treat I indulge in regularly (in moderation, of course) and the delicate Haviland Limoges china from France enhances every cup of coffee I’ve ever enjoyed in it.

Speaking of which…

In My Kitchen… are Tempiello coffee beans and a NoirBar dark chocolate-sea salt treat, thanks to the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa. A few months ago I signed up for a drawing class taught by an effervescent octagenarian (a lifelong art teacher who continues to share her gift — it’s all about sharing — remember kindergarten?!) who subsequently arranged a field trip to the “big city.” Although Tulsa doesn’t rank as high in population as NYC, Washington, D.C. or other “big” cities, the Philbrook is touted as one of America’s finest art museums.

We also dined at their restaurant Kitchen 27. The name derives from Philbrook being founded in 1927 and location at 2727 S. Rockford Road and their menu was an epicurean’s delight. After feasting on grilled salmon atop farro pilaf with golden raisins and almonds, a pickled mustard seed and Dijon cream sauce, sauteed haricot verts, and a stellar cup of Tempiello coffee, I couldn’t help but visit their gift shop.

The celebration continued after I got home.

In My Kitchen… is/was Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Ever tried it?

For more adventures — or to share yours — tune into Sherry’s In My Kitchen link.

Enjoying creative outlets,

~ Kim

Jambalaya ~ Past, Present, and Future

The first time I tasted Jambalaya was at a grown-up girls’ slumber party in the late 1970’s. Several of the seven females from the Class of ’76 reunited over dinner at a former classmate’s apartment in Minneapolis (she moved away before junior high but we kept in touch) and as I mentioned earlier, I have fond memories of the Twin Cities. Her Jambalaya was one of them. Never tasted anything like it until I moved South of the Minnesota-Iowa border. Good times and great flavors.

The Magnificent Seven (not including our former classmate) were outnumbered by 29 boys — yes, my graduating class totaled 36 — and although we girls were small but mighty, we were outspoken. Probably the apt word from that era is: dissenting. We weren’t afaid to disagree, protest, or try flavors foreign to our smalltown digs. The boys seemed to like our cooking, too. Memorable moment before we voted to cater subsequent class reunions: mega-batches of potato salad made in my kitchen.

Ditto on good times.

The Girls of ’76 went on to lead lives — culinary and otherwise — beyond the confines of our rural hometown. (Some of the boys, too.) But OH, how I remember that post-high school Jambalaya with shrimp, Andouille sausage, chicken, and the “Holy Trinity of the South” — sautee’d peppers, celery, and onion (hadn’t heard of that before either) — in a flavorful tomato sauce over rice.

Fast forward to present day when Joy The Baker added eggs (her Jambalaya Egg Bake was featured in Better Homes & Gardens where I first spied this recipe — with full credit going to Joy The Baker and Better Homes & Gardens.) Thanks both for featuring this flavor-fest blast from my past. Similar to Shakshuka (also discovered post-high school), it appealed to my beyond-the-border sensibilites and reminded me that there’s a lot left to experience in life — waaay beyond the the Prom floor or the bland Tuna Hotdishes I’d grown accustomed to on previous weekends.

For those of you who follow me on Facebook (thank you!) I recently posted photos of my Chocolate Roux and BBQ. (Different flavors and methods; same South of the Minnesota border spin.) Follow the links.

I’ll be making all of them again in the future. Hope y’all try ’em, too!

Enjoying past, present, and future Jambalaya — among other things,

~ Kim

A Labor of Love

Hello, and Happy Labor Day weekend.

Have you ever done something that entailed a lot of work, but it didn’t seem like work at all? Those are the moments that make my heart sing. How about you?

Pictured above is the Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon I made for the hard-working folks at The Mission last Monday — yes, that’s moi in the red apron — followed by “re-invented” meals on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Waste not, want not! My initial spread consisted of a salad bar, fried chicken (from a local grocery store deli by request), roast beef, homemade mashed potatoes (peeled 30 pounds at 4:00 a.m. Monday morning), cream gravy (theirs), and beef gravy (mine), which subsequently morphed into biscuits & gravy with a green salad, fresh fruit, and garlic bread sticks on Tuesday; a ham dinner on Wednesday (the food pantry supervisor wanted us to “taste test” the ham she bought before ordering more to give them out in our Thanksgiving/Christmas baskets — two thumbs up!); and ham salad sandwiches (they don’t call me the Queen of Leftovers for nothin’) with homemade cream of veggie soup on Thursday. Oh, and Rice Krispie bars with M’n’M’s because my “Zuppa Inglese” (English Trifle) ran out early in the week… a favorite from the 1970’s… sponge cake layered with strawberries & raspberries, vanilla pudding, whipped cream, and grated dark chocolate. Swoon…

The whole point of this Labor of Love was to show folks how much they’re appreciated — NOT about meal planning, menus, or kitchen stamina — although I heard a few comments about that too, xo. One gal even called me Superwoman. Don’t I wish? :)

Behind The Mission’s philanthropic venture to feed the hungry are many dedicated volunteers, including our backroom staff that tirelessly sorts through the daily donations and carries them to the thrift store (which generates funds to buy more food for the pantry) or packs them into barrels to ship to South America to help the needy there; the fix-it folks who test (or fix) every appliance, lamp, and/or toy before they head to the sales floor in working condition (often inserting batteries at our expense); the guys who run to the food banks in Tulsa, Muskogee, or McAlester on their own time and expense with their trucks and/or trailers to keep the food pantry shelves stocked; the pantry people who order supplies, stock shelves after every incoming shipment, and fill grocery carts for 250+ families/month (elderly, disabled, Veterans, grandparents with newly arrived grandchildren by proxy, and folks facing dire circumstances) plus the “cart runners” who courteously accompany them out to their vehicles and help unload; the front counter staff (good-natured checkout clerks who rely on God’s grace, gut instinct, and common sense to fairly price everything folks bring up to buy because much of it isn’t “priced” — we don’t have time to put price tags on everything!); the gal who takes time to glean and tag “designer items” for our two boutique racks (I’m tellin’ ya, I bought a Calvin Klein purse there for $3…) to generate even more sales for the food pantry; another lovely lady who sorts through the jewelry and updates our display racks every day (she’s also in charge of setting aside/storing select items for holidays, especially Christmas); our “day managers” who troubleshoot as well as tend to the deposit at the end of each day; the Mission Treasurer who keeps our bookkeeping straight; our empathetic intake staff who listens with love and compassion to heartbreaking life-stories inorder to give folks the help they need; and even a “roving reporter” who keeps the community apprised of our goings-on to solicit more support; plus myriad others who keep The Mission functional and viable,  including a sweet lady who designs our display shelves every Monday, one who arranges silk floral displays because she “likes to”, the janitor who cleans the place once a week, another treasured volunteer who takes home Barbie dolls and baby dolls to clean them up on her own time and/or culls through countless children’s books to encourage kids to read, and everybody else who donates “all of the above” — or used shopping bags. Thank you! We couldn’t do it without you.

(Apologies if I forgot anyone… time to rest and relax… hope you are, too!)

My Labor of Love is insignificant compared to all that goes on at The Mission and it seemed important for me to divulge that. Cooking because I love to (and can) is one thing, but VOLUNTEERING to help the helpless is a whole ‘nother level of love.

What makes your heart sing?

Enjoying being chairman of that motley crew (and cooking for them),

~ Kim

Close Encounters of the Lake Kind

I admire folks with the ability and patience to capture low light images.

Above is one of my fledgling favorites, back when the Lightning Tree still existed. Unfortunately, it (and my tripods) succumbed to earth, wind, and fire. C’est la vie. Some things are better left to experts.

Or memories.

Once in a Blue Moon

Over the years I’ve fooled around with nighttime photography and/or the full moon has fooled around with me. Raise your hand if its tidal pull gets the best of you, too. One thing I love about the photo above — blurry though it may be — is the spot on the lunar surface. What was that anyway? Don’t think it was a satellite zooming across the sky — it remained stationary. Ya never know when folks are watching.

I’ve even tried to take pictures of lightning. Let’s just say it was a hair-raising experience. (Do not try this at home!)

Last night I also witnessed a super nova. Such is my writerly life at 2:00 a.m. without photographic evidence. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of strays from the Perseid meteor shower — an annual August event —  when a familiar star blazed incredibly bright, then disappeared. Whether or not that celestial anomoly was documented by anyone else, I saw what I saw and was WOWED. Coincidence? I think not.

Full Moon over the Lake

What I’m trying to say is: live YOUR life whether you capture it on film or not.

Stellar moments happen but once in a lifetime.

Or at the right shutter speed.

Enjoying nighttime Lake Life,

~ 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