Orange You Glad It’s Almost 2021?

(Re-edited to include a recipe…)

Orange isn’t a holiday hue, but it’s my favorite color. (Not that you could tell from my wardrobe or our house — there isn’t a speck of it to be seen.) No offense to red and green, but I love orange’s vibrant cheerfulness!

Above and below are a few favorite holiday foods a L’Orange

First up are/were these sweet potatoes that graced our Thanksgiving table. They made a repeat performance on Christmas Day, too. Easy, peasy — and orange.

Maple & Pecan Roasted Sweet Potatoes

1 Tbsp. butter or extra virgin olive oil

2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and sliced into 1/4″ rounds

1/3 – 1/2 cup pecan halves and/or pieces (the more, the merrier!)

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter or oil a baking dish and layer with sweet potato slices. Cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour or until a fork easily pierces sweet potato slices. Remove from oven and remove foil. Sprinkle pecans over the top, drizzle with maple syrup, and return to oven uncovered. Bake 15 minutes more. Enjoy!

Then, these beautiful citrus fruits from Texas arrived — a gift from a beloved Aunt in Minnesota. (Thank you!) Originally there were more oranges, but I juiced and zested a few to make her Apricot Nut Bread pictured at the top, plus a batch of my favorite Southern pecans below. Sorry, no photo… but, here’s the recipe:

Orange-Glazed Pecans (courtesy of former pecan grower and fab cook, Linda Lamb)

1 Tbsp. grated orange rind

1/4 cup orange juice

1 cup granulated sugar

4 cups pecan pieces or halves

Combine first three ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. Add pecans. Stir until most of the liquid is gone. Remove from heat and stir until pecans separate and glaze. Pour onto waxed paper to cool. (Ditto on easy peasy!)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As for the Apricot Nut Bread, see below. The Man Of Few Words gave it a rave review :

“Now THAT’s some good bread!”

Sometimes he actually speaks. :)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Apricot Nutbread

(recipe adapted from “The Snyder Family Cookbook” submitted by Mariah Snyder)

1 c. dried apricots, cut fine

1/4 c. hot water (soak apricots for 30 minutes)

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

3/4 c. sugar, more or less (I punted)

2 eggs

1/2 c. orange juice

2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8″ x 5″ loaf pan and set aside.

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs. Add orange juice alternately with dry ingredients. Fold in walnuts. (I coated them with some of the dry ingredients beforehand so they wouldn’t “sink”.) Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

NOTE: I made a half-batch in a small loaf pan. (Check for doneness around 40-45 minutes.) If you wish, brush 1 tsp. sugar mixed with orange juice over top of the loaf before baking. (I didn’t — TMOFW isn’t much for “sweets” — but he was thrilled with the way this one turned out.) Additionally, glaze or drizzle it with a mixture of OJ & confectioners’ sugar.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Last but not least is a book I ordered from Marc Ensign, whose skill with words (and the bass guitar) I’ve admired for a long time. Please don’t judge his book by its cover! It may sound rather bawdy, but “Dick” refers to Marc’s neighbor who inspired him and many others (including me) to brighten the world with kindness, humility, forgiveness, and much more.

Plus, it’s my favorite color!

In just over 100 pages, Marc’s succint writing, storytelling, and humor touched my heart. Everybody needs to read this in 2021! You can order it by clicking here. But with shipping delays, sell-out stock, and hardcover copies hard to come by, you may have to wait awhile for delivery. (Be patient!) It’s well worth waiting for — and reading. “Be A Dick” is a treasure — even if it sounds “naughty.”

I don’t often recemmend things on my blog, but the subtitle on Marc’s book says it all: “How One Person Can Change The World In The Most Unexpected Way.” As I said, don’t judge this book by its cover! I received a number of “questioning” comments after my original post, but it was fun to clarify why I did. :) Also, please check out the recipe update above and have a Happier New Year and a happier outlook on life. We all need that in 2021.

Enjoying orange at The Lake,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ December 2020

In My Kitchen… this fish trio ended up on top of our freezer to make room for the Christmas tree. (I couldn’t help but dress them up a bit to include them in the festivity.) Although the freezer isn’t located In My Kitchen per se, it’s an integral part of our daily meals, faithfully storing stock, vegetables, meat, and more at sub-freezing temperatures. I’m so grateful for its silent, stalwart convenience.

The hostess of In My Kitchen (Sherry at Sherry’s Pickings) encouraged us to include curveballs now and then — things beyond the usual cooking goodies and gadgets. My contribution is “O Fish-mas Tree…” :) For more holiday kitchen fun around the world, please click on her link (in bold) above.

Merry is as merry does.

In My Kitchen… it’s out with the old and in with the new… coffee-maker, that is. Our “modern” one quit on Thanksgiving Day, and my ol’ stovetop percolater came to the rescue until a replacement could be acquired. (It also comes in handy when the power goes out.) Yay for coffee-making alternatives!

In My Kitchen (or nearby)… is my lil’ Charlie Brown Christmas tree. This year I added lights and set it in a window to brighten up the world. Hope it did yours.

We could all do with a lil’ more merry!

Enjoying holidays at The Lake,

~ Kim

Pleasant Diversions

These days I’m hard-pressed for topics to write about, unless you want to hear about my housecleaning efforts. Naturally, I turned to food as a creative outlet and diversion. (I’d rather cook than clean closets.)

Pictured above is Salmon Salad on Fry Bread. There was half of a seared salmon filet in the fridge awaiting reheating or reincarnation and I chose the latter. After flaking it, I added capers, finely diced red onions, lemon zest, and enough mayonnaise to hold it together, seasoned with several grinds of black pepper. But, what to serve it on?

A bed of assorted greens came to mind, but I wanted something more substantial. (Crackers or toast would have fit the bill too, but I was fresh out.) Then I thought about “Taco Tuesdays” — or in our neck o’ the woods — Indian Tacos on fry bread. Hot and puffy, fry bread is easy to make and even easier to eat. Why not pair it with Salmon Salad? (FYI, I used cup-for-cup gluten free flour; not quite as puffy as all-purpose flour, but satisfying nonetheless.) Garnish at will — or playfully.

Next up on my diversion list were Beef Short Ribs for supper. Normally I roast them to render the fat, then shred the meat to mix with BBQ sauce, but this recipe caught my eye. Layer upon layer of aromas permeated the house as I seared, sauteed, and simmered — almost to the point of being hedonistic. Served with mashed potatoes and coleslaw on the side, they were everything I hoped for flavor-wise. Many thanks to Holly of Spend With Pennies for this superb dish.

Last but not least, we’ve been graced with some spectacular sunsets lately — particularly this one earlier in November. Between the visual and visceral inspirations, I might even clean another closet.

Enjoying pleasant diversions at The Lake,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ November 2020

In My Kitchen… are two Mickey & Minnie Mouse stemless wine glasses from a favorite friend. How timely! This month our In My Kitchen hostess, Sherry MacKay of Sherry’s Pickings, invited us to include “curve balls” in our posts besides the usual kitchen paraphernalia. Don’t you just love lighthearted, good-humored people? FUN!

In My Kitchen… my “best-ie” also sent two Mickey & Minnie shaped silicone trivets. Ditto on fun and lighthearted! Thank you, xo.

In My Kitchen… is an Oklahoma-shaped cutting board that illustrates our State’s unique shape. It’s also handy for charcuterie on the rare occasions our lake neighbors show up. Covid-19 has impacted our “socializing” and our State has been on the news a LOT lately with its rising numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths. Hold your loved ones close — or as close as you can — and celebrate every unique moment.

In My Kitchen… is a Noritake tea cup and saucer I acquired for tea-drinking. Somehow it just didn’t feel right to drink tea out of a coffee mug! Bearing in mind that most of you are entering your hot season, the cooler days here begged for special treatment… a hug in a cup.

In My Kitchen… are bay leaves I ordered from Nuts.com — more than I anticipated! But, they’ll add a lovely flavor to soups, stews, shrimp boils, and whatever else I figure out to use them in, don’t you think?

In My Kitchen … (or just up The Hill…) Autumn has arrived. It’s always been a Season of introspection for me — this year particularly so — and goes to show that some things still remain “the same” amidst change. How lovely to revel in that constant.

In My Kitchen… is one last “curve ball” pic of Life At The Lake — taken after one of my walkabouts. As Yeats wrote: “I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” Be gentle with folks (yourself, especially) during these tumultuous times. Keep following your dreams. Every day is a new adventure!

Enjoying Autumn and wishing you well,

~ Kim

Comfort Food IV

History repeats itself, or so it’s said.

On this particular Autumn day I was thinking Comfort Food. Apparently, my mind was on food more than photography. The plated version turned out to be a rather monochromatic affair — further aided and abetted by Oklahoma’s sunshine — but The Man Of Few Words was happy with his supper: breaded pork cutlets, mashed potatoes with Kerry Gold butter, deviled eggs, corn, and coleslaw. He’s also color blind. ;)

My ulterior motive was to eat while it was still hot (foodies everywhere know from whence I speak ) so I snapped a quick photo. While this one may not be worthy of the history books, it sure tasted good.

In researching my vast archives (I’m not exaggerating…), one dish I rediscovered was Neapolitan Meatballs with Ragu. The first time I made it was before the pandemonium… er… pandemic began, in a post entitled An Ode To 2020 and Beyond. Ironically (or prophetically?) I concluded by saying: Enjoying “2020” vision at the lake. I guess we all know how that — and the rest of 2020 — turned out.

Recently I recreated Round Two of that sublime dish over Soft Polenta (instead of pasta) and smiled recalling my previous post’s admonition to “Live life well.” That advice still stands. It also helps to be adaptable when history repeats itself.

Getting back to the pork cutlets, apologies for lack of an “official” recipe… basically I patted the cutlets dry, seasoned them with salt & pepper (S & P), dredged ’em in a mixture of flour, Lawry’s seasoning salt, dry mustard, onion powder, and S & P, dipped ’em in an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1/4 cup water), dunked ’em in bread crumbs seasoned with paprika, and fried ’em for 3-5 minutes per side until golden brown.

For more fun and frolics, feel free to click on the bold “greenish” links within this post. You never know when an actual recipe might show up.

As they say, the rest is history.

Enjoying ongoing Comfort Food,

~ Kim