Truth From The Lake

I’ve wept for worldwide losses. Smiled over simple joys. Felt blessed to make dinner despite shortages. Prayed for the less fortunate. Contributed to causes.

What more could I do while social distancing and staying at home, as “personally” as the internet allows? Make bread.

A lil’ lovin’ from the oven goes a long way — plus the store was almost out.

This is 2020, yes? What a different world we live in. But, back to the basics can be a good thing — a vital reminder to cherish life and change what you can, even if it means kneading dough after your arms are tired. (Imagine what it must be like for folks on the front lines… doctors, nurses, paramedics, EMT’s, police, firefighters, first responders, gas station/convenience store/ grocery clerks, etc. — God bless ’em all — and thank you.) Sometimes we need to start “from scratch.”

While I was pummeling dough, the song “I Need You” by America came to mind. (Probably because my brain accesses random trivia when I least expect it; remind me to become a Jeopardy contestant.) “I knead you, like the flour needs the rain.” [sic]. You get the idea. Hopefully you can access this link to their recording session, along with a few o’my own in bold blue. Some things bear repeating.

I especially loved the banter at the beginning wondering if they should do over and their producer’s advice: “Just keep going.” That’s where we’re at right now, America.  Just keep going! Stay inside, wash your hands, listen to/follow the CDC guidlines, and make the most of your time on the planet. Make bread and music if you can, too — you never know whose soul you might inspire, save, or feed. Keep it up!

Enjoying an introspective moment at the lake,

~ Kim

Chicken Salad and Other Possibilities

We could all use a few possibilities these days.

One thing I’ve done to pass the time is to see how many “new” meals I can make out of one. The other night it was roast chicken. After dinner I deboned the bird, simmered the carcass with veggies for stock, and divided the rest into portions. Visions of poultry dishes danced in my head: chicken Alfredo, creamed chicken on baking powder biscuits, chicken Tetrazzini, chicken ‘n’ rice hotdish, and many more — plus one o’ my favorites — chicken salad. Talk about a party on a plate.

Depending on “who” you invite, the outcome is different every time. (Great way to use up fridge-dwellers, too.) Yesterday’s soirée included diced Granny Smith apples, celery, and onions — with cooked chicken, of course — seasoned with Himalayan salt, freshly ground black pepper, grated nutmeg, and dressed with a jalapeno honey orange mayo combo. Let the revelry begin!

I also feel the same way about potatoes. (Sorry, no photos.)

Mashed, baked, creamed, fried, scalloped, hashed, roasted, boiled for potato salad (or in soups and stews), pancakes, patties, au gratin, O’Brien, oh my! At times I feel like “Bubba” in Forrest Gump.

But, whatever you do…

Memories were meant to be passed along. (Safely.) Make the most of your time… and ingredients.

Enjoying a lil’ creativity in the kitchen,

~ Kim

Snooze If You Must

How many people do you know who’ve made best friends with a fox?

Other than Kevin Costner’s scenes in Dances With Wolves while he attempted to befriend “Two Socks” (the elusive wolf), I seriously doubted it could happen for “real” unless it was cinematographically staged. Then I ran across this photo in my archives, which immediately sparked a sense of wonder to the point of being compelled to share it with you again… with a story.

Yes, this actually happened.

In the weeks prior to that Kodak moment, my ever-lovin’ patient hubby (The Man Of Few Words, aka: TMOFW) worked as a groundskeeper at a retirement community between trucking jobs — mowing lawns, edging sidewalks, watering flower beds, making repairs, and courteously attending to its elderly residents.

One day he came home and said a fox showed up at his workshop door. Per TMOFW, he proffered a nonchalant “hi” (in a no rush, whenever you’re ready tone of voice) and the fox stuck around to “observe.” Later, it began following him on his rounds — trotting beside him or slightly behind. What a sight that must have been.

Their relationship continued to grow on innate curiosity and a mutual respect for boundaries — the story of our marriage (feeling blessed) — even though it was tentative at first. Sometimes the fox skittered off when TMOFW made a sudden move (truthfully, I did too) and other times it stuck around longer and longer to absorb the wonder. Isn’t that what life is about? Building trust one day at a time?

Long story short, I’m certain the fox never encountered such a calm human being. (Bonus points for Russ’s moniker meaning “red like a fox.”) As the days wore on they continued to forge the bonds of friendship.

Kindred souls.

One day TMOFW called. “Can you bring your camera please? Mr. Fox is getting sleepy.” I arrived just as it sidled up to a cedar fence and yawned. The fox didn’t appear overly concerned about my presence (see trust above) and allowed me to get fairly close before he settled in for a snooze. Speaking of which…

How do you feel about using the snooze button on your alarm clock and/or phone? Although I resort to it every once in awhile, it feels like I’m delaying the inevitable. As Maria Von Trapp once extolled: “When you wake up, WAKE UP! It’s healthy…

That said, I’ve adopted a much more relaxed approach to life and blogging lately, despite my previously stated intentions to post more frequently. Some days I don’t have much to say, but I observe a lot. Spring is just around the corner and I plan to write more… cook more… show you more… after I hit the the snooze button.

Wonder is where you look for it (and blessed to find it) when you’re AWAKE!

Enjoying memories at a slower pace,

~ Kim

Catch Of The Day

It’s been a long time since I’ve tasted a Northern or Walleye, let alone caught one.

Back in the halcyon days of summer vacations, Dad ‘n’ I would arise before anybody else (I’m talking 5:00 a.m.) and launch the resort’s Alumacraft fishing boat with its 25 hp Evinrude motor armed with a thermos of coffee and fishing poles from home in high hopes of catching a lunker. Some morning our outings yielded Northerns; other days walleyes. Both were wonderful.

So are the memories.

There’s nothing like casting a line and feeling a rebellious tug beneath the surface, except for eating it later. (Fellow-fisherman, you know from whence I speak.) One of the highest compliments my Dad ever paid me was: “Nice cast!” On that particular morning mine landed next to a weed bed where I subsequently reeled in a 5-pound Northern. I’ll never forget the sight of it breaking the calm surface of the lake with a defiant splash — or the proud look on my father’s face.

Afterwards we went back to the cabin to cook breakfast. While Dad cleaned our early-morning catch, I prepped potatoes, toast, and another pot of coffee. One of the best wake-up calls I’ve ever experienced was the aroma of fried potatoes and fresh fish fillets sizzling in a cast iron skillet with toast and freshly brewed coffee.

Plenty of butter was also a plus.

Recently I bought some Ghee — clarified butter with the milk solids removed — after attempting to make my own and researching numerous articles re: its compatability with dairy allergies. I miss butter! Some of them said it was a no-no, while others proclaimed it was lactose and “dairy-protein-free.” (The bane of my existence.) Ever the optomist, I opted for the latter. So far, so good, one teaspoon or “dunk” at a time.

Last weekend a couple from church returned from a fishing trip to Canada with two coolers full of fillets on ice intent on giving away their excess. Thank you SO much for your generosity! I was like a kid in a candy store in front of their tailgate in the church parking lot. After I got home I thawed a bag of Walleye fillets and made Walleye Almondine (or Amandine.) Sorry, no photos — it was gone in a flash.

The next day I made Poor Man’s Lobster (click on the link for the recipe): Northern fillets poached in a white wine and what-have-you broth. I added a few Court Bouillon ingredients ala Alton Brown — the more, the merrier — and broiled them to perfection later. Soooo grateful to taste that flavor again.

Enjoying the catch of the day and memories,

~ Kim

Sharing Is Caring (Carnitas)

Some things are too good not to share. Take Carnitas for instance. Translated as “little meats”, a hunk of pork is slow-cooked for hours, shredded into shards after it’s fork-tender, then sautee’d prior to serving. Talk about flavor this side of heaven. (The leftovers freeze and reheat well, I might add.)

A few simple ingredients contributed to that stunning transformation: onions, oranges, garlic, oregano, bay leaves, salt, sweetened condensed milk (truth be told, I punted and mixed coconut oil and coconut palm sugar to achieve that effect due to my dairy allergies) and lard. Confession, I subbed “bacon fat” — a Southern staple. Oh my!

Several years ago I made David Leite’s Authentic Carnitas and enjoyed every bite, then filed his recipe for future refence. When I looked it up again last week, the only note I discovered on it was: “These are fabulous!” (Click on the link for the recipe.) Who doesn’t want to eat fabulous food?

Shown above with a skewer of black olives, a side-salad of baby spinach, arugula, and orange segments dressed in a lime vinaigrette with avocado slices drizzled with lime juice and liberally sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper, plus a gluten-free wrap I was trying out that evening, (ditto on oh my!) it exceeded my flavor expectations. In the future I may incorporate some of the sides into that hefty structure (who doesn’t love a good fusion taco?!), but on that particular evening I wanted to taste everything separately. Unfettered. Fabulous!

Re: the taco shells… BFree Sweet Potato Wraps. Described on their packaging as: “Scrummy with sweet potato, beetroot & carrot” I have no idea how they ended up on our local grocer’s shelf with their UK pricing and origins, but they were mighty tasty. (Thanks, adventurous grocery store buyers!) FYI, they’re also good with a slice of pastrami, a “schmear” of Dijon mustard mixed with mayo, and an assortment of greens. Gotta love cross-cultural-flavor adventures.

Re: Life On The Lake, we’re still in the throes of winter in Oklahoma — torrential rains, hail, tornadoes, fog, frost, ice, sleet, snow, and temps ranging from 70 to 30 or below — but I still love it here. Don’t let weather — or life — distract you from your dreams. You never know when the next surprise or inspiration will show up.
Speaking of which — above is a “just because” mid-winter bouquet TMOFW showed up with one afternoon. It was least I could do was to surprise him with FABULOUS food that evening. Isn’t it lovely how that all works out?

Well, that pretty much sums up life at the lake lately. Cook! Eat! Enjoy! And, be sure to look up a few recipes while you’re at it.

Enjoying revisiting FABOULOUS food,

~ Kim