Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Memories of the Past Infringe Upon the Future

My lovely daughter belatedly reminded me that I had promised to publish a photo of Halloween past today. This is a gentle reminder of the vagaries of nature.

A rare Snow-Pumpkin-Man just in time for Halloween in Cincinnati, Ohio.

My daughter and son dressed up for Halloween. More years ago than I care to remember.

A Beautiful End to Another Beautiful Day

In between treating our young costumed visitors this evening, I just had to run out to my back deck to capture these pictures. I hope your day and sunset were just as nice as mine.

As you can see, even a few minutes makes a huge difference.

Off to Thailand

The next stop on my world culinary tour takes me to Thailand. I met with a friend for lunch today at the Sunny Palace restaurant. You may remember that I was earlier able to sample a traditional Vietnamese dish at this same restaurant.

Of course, I had to go with a traditional Thai dish as well, so I chose the Pork Pad Thai Noodle entre along with my requisite iced tea with lemon. Bean sprouts, cabbage, egg, lime juice, ground peanuts and peanut sauce were included with the pork and noodles. What can I say? It was delicious and I will be having Pad Thai again. In fact, I can’t wait to try other Thai dishes. But those will have to wait for other trips to other Thai restaurants in town.

Pork Pad Thai Noodles

Along with the meal, I enjoyed the company of my friend. She is also a Master Gardener, and was president of our county’s organization before me. Oh, did I mention that she is the one who keeps talking me into being president of Master Gardeners each year? Well, I will admit that she has been a huge help and support for me and has even agreed to be an ‘unofficial’ ex-officio officer. Thanks for ‘traveling’ to Asia with me, Mary Jane!

My next stop? We’ll just have to wait and see!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Randomness Happens

Tufted Titmouse against the morning fog

Welcome to more of my random world.

Those of you who are exceptionally intuitive and observant might have noticed that I like to photograph the world around me. Getting a digital camera has allowed me to take all the pictures I want, without worrying about the expense of the film or getting the film developed.

A collection of coleus at Munchkin Gardens in Southern Indiana

We are working on eating more healthy meals at home. Yesterday I made an Orzo and Vegetable Salad. I made tri-color orzo and drained the pasta while I chopped vegetables. This is a dish that can be made with what ever vegetables you might have on hand. Last night I cut broccoli, sugar snap peas, carrots, celery, red onion, and red bell pepper. I added crumbled Feta cheese to the dish. The vinaigrette was the juice of 1/2 lemon, Dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil, honey and freshly cracked black pepper. The amounts vary according to taste. Toss the orzo, vegetables and cheese with the vinaigrette and serve. Good and good for you.

Orzo and Vegetable Salad - just enough left over for me today!

This dish saves well in the refrigerator and is great for lunch the next day.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fall is Really Here!

This morning we woke up to no electricity and the first freeze of the season. After a couple of hours the electricity was restored, the house began to warm back up while the frost melted in the sunshine. But what a beautiful day! I may have to adjourn to my deck this afternoon with my cat.

This is the view I have from my library where I sit at my computer. Everywhere we look we see trees.

We got to meet our daughter's boyfriend last evening, so I made steaks, mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, sauteed crimini mushrooms and Green and Gold salad for dinner. He seemed to enjoy dinner. I know I did.

Perhaps the best part was that I grilled an extra sirloin steak and saved it for my lunch today. I then thinly sliced it across the grain and briefly heated them in the microwave. Meanwhile, I put mayonnaise on a whole wheat bun, added sliced onion and a slice of swiss cheese. I simply adore steak sandwiches. Hot or cold, they are just delicious.


This is a favorite recipe for our family. My daughter likes her peas uncooked anyway, and with the additional ingredients, she is in heaven. Frozen peas have been blanched during the processing, so there is no problem with not cooking them first. Oddly, people either love this recipe or hate it. This salad does not hold up well to storage, so the dressing needs to be added to the other ingredients just before serving. I often omit the mustard and salt, resulting in a slightly sweeter salad.

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen green peas
1/2 c. shredded natural cheddar cheese
2 tbs. chopped onion
3 tbs. mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 tsp. prepared mustard, opt.
1/4 tsp. salt
crisp salad greens, opt.
fresh mint, finely chopped, opt.

Rinse peas with small amount of running cold water to separate the peas and to remove ice crystals; drain. Mix all ingredients except salad greens. Serve salad on greens.

Makes 4 or 5 servings. Marilyn’s note: don’t mix rest of ingredients with peas and cheese until just before serving.

Green and Gold Salad

Remember my newly found treasure? I cleaned the copper with half a lemon dipped in tablesalt per a wise person's advice and voila! No scrubbing necessary. I am already dreaming of sauces to be made in this beautiful pot.

It's even prettier cleaned up.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

She who laughs last - didn't understand the joke

Does anyone need a laugh today? Especially since it is at my expense? All right then. Many years ago my husband's grandmother gave me an old copper pot. It is a 2 quart sauce pan with a lid. The inside is stainless steel and the handles seem to be solid brass.

The mystery pot - isn't it pretty?

So, how do I use this pot? I don't. It is beautiful and I have always treated it as a piece of art. Simply put, it hangs on my kitchen wall. That's it. Fast forward to this morning. Out of curiosity I read the name that is engraved on the underside of the pot handle. I have to admit: the name has never meant anything to me. I had never heard of it and had always assumed it was an off brand. I do know that the pot was several years old when it was given to me 15 or so years ago.

But now that I have the vast resources of the internet available to me, I decided to see if I could find out anything about this mystery pot. Cop*R*Chef. Holy cow! It's All-Clad! As in this is not a cheap pot. As in, why in the world haven't I been using the thing? Well, it certainly will be used from now on. I found a treasure that had been hiding in plain sight all these years. It looks good on the wall.

I took the time last evening to prepare breakfast for this morning. This casserole must be assembled the night before, to allow the custard mixture to soften the bread. I allow the casserole to set up for a bit after I remove it from the oven. The dish holds well and reheats easily.


I was first served this at my best friend Jeanie's house. She, in turn, had gotten it from another friend. This has to be made the night before so it can sit in the refrigerator overnight.

~ 6 slices Pepperidge Farm bread
margarine spread
1 lb. sausage
6 eggs, beaten
1 c. half and half
1 c. milk
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese

Remove crusts from the bread and spread margarine on one side. Grease a 13 X 9 X 2 inch pan; lay bread with margarine side up. Brown sausage, crumbled. Drain and spoon over bread. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Mix and pour egg, half and half, milk and salt. Cover casserole and chill over night.

When ready to bake, let casserole stand out 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake uncovered 45 minutes or until set.

This looks good enough to eat!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sunrise, Sunset

An unusual red sunrise - no bad weather that day

Since it looks to be a dark and gloomy day, I thought I'd brighten my day with some photos of sunrises and sunsets. Capturing the beautiful images on my digital camera is a particular hobby of mine. I hope they brighten your day also.

This is my favorite tree to photograph in the winter time. I just love the bones of this tree. Is there a more photogenic tree out there?

How about a full moon over a football game?

Jet trails in the evening sky

Who can I complain to about this utility pole? It's in the absolute worst spot for my wintertime sunset photos. I cannot believe they would be so insensitive to my needs.

Summer sunsets require more careful staging as some of the neighborhood houses tend to get in the way of a good picture.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Our Honored Visitors

The first bluejay of the season

I felt sorry for our fine feathered friends this year and opened the All-You-Can-Eat-Bird-Buffet early. The cardinals started visiting my deck, signalling their desire for additional sustenance. Clearly they appreciate it, even if they lack the manners to properly thank me.

A male cardinal visits. Cardinals always travel in pairs. Aren't they cavalier?

Last winter I participated in the Great American Backyard Bird Count. It not only helped an environmental group, it helped to educate me. I learned to truly watch and observe. I also learned to appreciate the variety of wildlife that surrounds me. I urge you to join in the effort this coming season. It takes very little time and brings so much personal satisfaction.

Having grown up amongst the corn fields of West Central Ohio, I am still amazed by the numerous species that surround us. Every day is a new miracle.

The Colors of Fall

I took my camera out for a little drive today. The trees have just been spectacular this year and I wanted to capture a bit of the magic while I still could. Enjoy the ride.

Sassafrass trees are in abundance around here. There can be up to four differently shaped leaves on each tree. Some leaves are ovals while others have three lobes. Still others look like left-handed mittens while others look like right-handed mittens.

I had to edit out a car that parked in my way just as I was taking this picture. How rude!

Oh, did I mention that it was raining the entire time I was taking these pictures? Aren't you just so very proud of me? Well, you shouldn't be. It occurred to me later that I messed up royally. I went down to a very remote area without letting anyone know where I was going. If something had happened to me, no one would have even had a clue about where to begin looking for me. Yes, I am naive in these things. No, don't do what I did. Always make sure someone knows where you will be.

Looking across an inlet of the lake. Rain has been scarce this year and the lake is down a few feet. Often blue heron can be seen in this swampy area.

This poor man has been hanging from the hayloft opening for years. Won't somebody get a ladder or call 911?

Storm clouds on a fall afternoon

The woods behind our house

The old barn behind our property. Turkey vultures live there. Obviously this was not taken recently!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Random Thoughts

Get used to it: I have a lot of random thoughts. So many that you just might need a program in order to keep up with me.

But first, this Public Service Announcement. While a good cutting board is an essential piece of kitchen equipment, it is often not enough to ensure food safety. I recently invested in a relatively inexpensive set of plastic mats that, when used properly, can help reduce the chances of cross-contamination. Because I am anal, I paired the colors with specific foods: red is for beef and pork, blue is for seafood, yellow is for poultry and green is used for vegetables. The mats can be washed by hand or in the dishwasher and take up very little storage space. Consider this investment for your kitchen.

Color-coded cutting mats

Now, on to the show.

Midnight has been exploring the inside of the dryer today

Kelley likes to take action shots - here I'm cooking lunch

Last evening's sunset

The inside of our county's courthouse dome. This photo won a blue ribbon and honors ribbon at this year's county fair. I took this photo while surrounded by a room full of people.