Jim’s Bitchin’ Kitchen

Jim and I have become elders. Seems like over night we’re over the hill, making adjustments, shedding old habits and expectations, wondering how on earth we’re going to cope with extreme old age. We’re picking up tips about each other’s domain–when one of us knocks off, the other will somehow survive.

Jim is learning to cook. He can follow a recipe with minimal coaching. Now he’s figuring out the inverse of having a culinary vision. Instead of choosing recipes and organizing ingredients, he looks around for readily available edible items. He’s acquiring a foraging mentality.

He often presents ordinary food in a unique way.

Contrasting presentation aesthetics: elegant tangerines and messy mickies.

They look like a disaster, BUT they are A+ world class super scrumptious gourmet spuds. It’s ridiculous to attempt translating a taste into words. Making your own mickies is a must.

Bake russets on winter evenings when the wood stove coals are settled and hot. Medium sized is best so you don’t have to wait such a long time for them to cook all the way through.

Shove unwrapped russets into the coals with a poker. Cover them with coals as best you can. Leave them alone for about 15-20 minutes and turn them over for 10 more minutes. Time varies according to how hot the coals are. Extract a spud from the coals with the poker, then pierce it with long fork. After the initial jab goes through the black crust, the tines easily slide into the soft interior. These are done.

The charcoal crust is cool enough to touch after two minutes. Jim cuts his length-wise, then mashes it. I like mine cut cross-wise into little cups that are easy to hold. Butter, salt and pepper top off the most surprisingly delicious taste and texture ever discovered in the potato culinary kingdom.

Jim loves to make 2nd breakfast, which is more substantial than coffee & toast 1st breakfast. Omelettes are among his favorites. We have become egg snobs because our neighbors share premium free-range goose and hen eggs.

Marcella Robinson from Whey Behind Farms generously provides goose eggs, which are more valuable than gold because they’re edible.

These rambunctious, pushy goslings have imprinted on Marcella. They think she is their mom until they reach adolescence. They will begin to lay precious eggs in about a year. BTW, as adults and matrons they still come waddling to Marcella when she calls them: “GosOOOOO! GosOOOOOOO!”

Here’s another measurement to show how large these eggs are.

Jim uses two for a giant omelette.

He raps the thick shell on the rim of the bowl with a smart smack.

Note Jim’s skill–he leaves only a small amount of albumin dribbled onto the counter.

Jim as chef takes time to examine the onion before the slice-dice.

Onion roots are decorative and the papery skin is both brittle and strong. The outer onion layer is amazingly smooth.

Jim inspects the chopping knife, which is a bit dull, but its silhouette is impressive.

He proceeds with the onion. If these were tea leaves, this constellation would say, “You will enjoy washing dishes after a dinner party.”

Grater action through semi-hard cheddar is satisfying.

Chopping garden broccollini is a cinch.

Before Jim scrambles the eggs, he notices his shaggy reflection in the pan’s thin coating of olive oil.

The pan’s sizzle temperature is just right for the onion saute and goose egg pour.

Jim pays attention the balanced spatula design.

He adds the broccoli last so that it will remain bright green and tasty.

He shows off his left-handed back flip.

He serves a perfect Ooo-la la omelletta in our favorite outdoor restaurant.

Toadies are another 2nd breakfast specialty. Break the egg into the cut out hole. Fry and flip.

Jim looks around for whatever we have in abundance (or whatever is about to go bad.). If it’s apple season, he fries apple slices with sausage–usually plant-based patties from the freezer. (Chop sticks are his preferred kitchen tool.)

During pear season, Jim concocts pear gorgonzola walnut pizza. In every phase of ripeness, pears are delicious. If he can’t find a traditional small crust, he makes faux pizza with a thick tortilla. Use a medium high heat in the toaster oven until the cheese is bubbly.

Kabocha squashes store well all winter–they are a default dinner.

He cuts the squash and saves seeds for next year. Boiled for 15 minutes, the sections become tender. When cool, the skin easily separates from the flesh. He might make a creamy mashed version or if skins are tender, he might chunk them in a soup.

This time, he makes fried kabocha balls coated with freshly minced garlic and panko.

When Jim was learning basic cooking–starting with how to boil an egg–he’d drive me crazy with the amount of repetitive coaching he needed. He is nearly deaf, so following directions is difficult and short term memory loss doesn’t help. I learned not to roll my eyes with impatience and I constantly monitor my tone of voice so he knows that my increased volume does not mean I am mad.

He understands that everything he cooks is appreciated. Even more than appreciating his skills, I am refreshed by his playful, mindful attention to the wonders and beauty of our world.

My Honey Pie

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23 thoughts on “Jim’s Bitchin’ Kitchen

  1. I need to hang out with the boy in the kitchen…it’s a very creative process and fun when you start tossing stuff together (and it somehow works!!) M

    On Tue, Apr 5, 2022 at 3:26 PM Gretchen Butler Wild Art wrote:

    > Gretchen Butler posted: ” Jim and I have become elders. Seems like over > night we’re over the hill, making adjustments, shedding old habits and > expectations, wondering how on earth we’re going to cope with extreme old > age. We’re picking up tips about each other’s domain–when one ” >


  2. Yay, what a delicious omelette! Your post makes me think of all the cooking my grandfather did when he was widowed. My grandmother taught him quite a few things, and he became quite the cook after she passed. His breakfast of choice was miso soup and rice, an ode to his many years spent in Japan and China.

    I was sorry to miss your daughter when she came out to Santa Fe – we were in Albuquerque visiting friends and family! Now is not the time to buy in Santa Fe, but perhaps she was able to get a sense of the area.

    I’ve been painting while out here, a new series I am calling “High Desert”. Here is a “practice”:

    Sending well wishes, Alison

    Alison Trujillo, M.Ed. Spanish – English Translation office: +1 (707) 847-3970 cell: +1 (415) 613-7886 lifetranslated.net



  3. Wonderful newsy blog, Gretchen❣️ I love that my big bro (not in size) has become a fancy-pants culinary wizard. 👨‍🍳🍳❤️❣️❤️


  4. Well, that was really yummy on all counts!! Deafness is a challenge all the way around and I’m glad you both persevered to bring out the great cook in Jim. As I said: Yummy!! And thanks!


  5. This delights on so many levels. I laughed out loud and even cried a bit. Thank you so for inviting us into your magical world of whimsy and wisdom. Tonight may be the final fire in our woodstove, better get some souds nestled in💛


  6. I’m trying to figure out just exactly how long it will take me to get there for an omelet and a cooking lesson. I hope to share some kitchen moments with you this year Gretchen and Jim. Rivers of love to you from Montana


  7. My Dear….

    I just loved this new post/ blog/cooking show. What a nonstop creative you are. It is such a personal story to share, and its sure to be adored by all.

    I’ve seen it earlier, and was very touched by “My Honey Pie”…I love how you carefully encircle him meanwhile he shows adoration and he encircles the cat. I love how your being is bigger and giving, and his is receiving and cuddled.

    Hope to get out to MPs tomorrow. Hope to see you!

    Tim is now 4 weeks post op. What a few awful last few months it has been. Thankfully he is starting to be in less pain, and is sometimes a more bit pleasant. He is not a happy guy anymore, it is hard to watch the devolution. Ok enough whining!

    Lets plan our usual G&G celebration day in late April/May!!!!!

    ❣️❣️❣️❣️❣️ G

    PS. Think you should increase your prices – my cards sell for $5.50-$6.50 each (without shipping) depending on location.



  8. Gretchen, what a delightful, sweet post! I can smell and taste it all, and the accompanying photos capture the color and fun. We’d love to come visit once we get totally settled into Paso and thoroughly extracted from Running Springs. Keep that man cookin’! ❤️🥚🍳🍕🥔🍊🥦🧅🥙


  9. Loooove Second Breakfast 🍳!!! David x

    On Tue, Apr 5, 2022, 5:26 PM Gretchen Butler Wild Art wrote:

    > Gretchen Butler posted: ” Jim and I have become elders. Seems like over > night we’re over the hill, making adjustments, shedding old habits and > expectations, wondering how on earth we’re going to cope with extreme old > age. We’re picking up tips about each other’s domain–when one ” >


  10. Love these. Bravo, Jim. We like your style! And Gretchen thanks for the photos. ❣️❣️❣️



  11. I love reading your monthly photo essays! They are creative, thoughtful, unique, beautiful and so much fun!!! Thanks so much for sharing, Gretchen!


  12. I love your post, Gretchen! You forgot to mention the importance of wearing star-spangled sunglasses while cooking! Good thing you had a picture!


  13. Love the photos, recipes, artwork, and both of you. I was smart to introduce you to each other, wasn’t I??


  14. What joy you two share and share with us. You exemplify the adage of healthy aging and learning new things. For Jim, cooking. For you, patience and perhaps unexpected (or maybe expected) delight.
    Love you both


  15. Gretchen, what a delight to read your love=filled story about continuing to grow and create in this new stage in our lives. You and Jim inspire me to roll with it and create fun. Thanks. I just finally got to read it. You two are the best.


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