Saturday, March 29, 2008

What a Day!

I was a busy girl on Saturday. I needed to get an onion so I could make some turkey stock and some corn on the cob for dinner on the grill (grilled turkey legs, too), so I decided to load up the trunk of my car with some of our recyclables and I packed my camera.

First, I headed east to see how high the lake would be at 12.6 feet over pool level. I couldn't even get to the lake as one of the streams had flooded the road (I do NOT drive through flooded areas). So I carefully turned around and headed to my local nursery, where I bought some herbs, some onion, shallots and garlic, a very striking pelargonium and a tomato plant. I then headed south and found my way to the tailwater (the dam and the stream below the dam). I got out and took some pictures and then drove up to the overlook and took more pics.

Then it was on to the grocery store and the recycling center. I had to wait in line at the recycling center, but finally got to park and unload. And then I drove home, started my turkey stock, got some lunch, planted some of my pots, and then caught up with my internet addiction. Whew! Hoping y'all had a very happy Saturday.

Rats. My way is blocked this way.

The southern end of Lake Monroe, as viewed from the overlook.

The dam.

And now we are below the dam.

Looking down at the outflow from the dam.

We seem to have lost some of the steps.

Some fishermen are taking advantage of the tailwater.

I formed a recipe for grilled turkey legs. I had earlier brined (water, salt, sugar, black pepper corns and dried red pepper flakes) the legs as I was unsure as to what method I was going to use to cook the legs and I wanted to ensure that they remained moist and tender.

I later decided to first boil the legs until they reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees and then grill to crisp the skin. I added sugar, lemon juice, sliced onion, black pepper corns, dried red pepper flakes and hot sauce to the water.

I inserted a probe thermometer into the thick end of one of the legs and set it to beep at 165 degrees. This took about 20-30 minutes.

While the turkey legs were boiling, I made a grilling glaze. One tablespoon of steak sauce and two tablespoons of honey are mixed together and will be brushed on the legs later.

The legs and corn on the cob go on the grill.

After about 15 minutes on the grill, we are ready to eat. I want to try this with turkey wings someday.

Marilyn Learns to Mango

After having this poor mango on hand for two weeks, with nary a clue of how to actually use it, I finally found a decent recipe for a mango-red onion salad.

Wow, success on the very first try! Oh, didn't I tell you that I had never dealt with mango before?

I followed the directions given: cut cross hatches into the flesh, but avoid cutting through the skin (or too much, at least). I felt it was best for the safety and well-being of my left hand (I'm very attached to it, you see) to set the fruit on the cutting board before slicing and dicing.

Now the fun part: turn the fruit 'inside out' to make it easier to pop off the cubes.

Next, I sliced a bit of red onion to add to the salad.

And now we have the salad. I did add a splash of soy sauce for depth of flavor. The juxtaposition of sweet and tangy made for a satisfying dish.

Hopefully, the next time I will have the suggested mint growing in my garden so that I can add that to the dish.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Inspiration from a Friend

As I was lamenting to my friend, Rosie Hawthorne (of fame), that I had 'lost' a recipe with sausage and apples, she told me of a simple recipe that she uses. I thanked her and made plans to make this dish for the next morning. And then my husband informed me at 11:56 pm that he was working the next morning. Okay. So now it would be our lunch.

Rosie's recipe calls for four ingredients: sliced kielbasa, an apple, sliced and cinnamon and sugar.

Rosie obviously had a lot more confidence in my ability to correctly make this recipe as her instructions were simply this: Slice kielbasa, cook. Add sliced apple. Add sugar and cinnamon and cook.

I don't know if this is what my friend had in mind, but this is what I did. I seared the sliced kielbasa before adding the sliced apples. I sprinkled some of the cinnamon sugar mixture I had made some time ago over the contents of the pan and sauteed over medium heat. The next time I make this, I will make it in a larger pan so that the pan is not so crowded.

Since my husband not only went to work on a Saturday, but stayed late, I opted to place the finished dish in a chafing dish.

I like this shot.

The verdict? We loved this dish and there was nothing left after my husband got home. Thanks Rosie! You rock.

Morphing Meals

My family left me to my own devices yet again last evening. So what did I do? I ran to the kitchen (well, walked actually) and began pulling ingredients out of the fridge and the pantry for a meal I knew I would like.

I gathered ingredients for a sweet, but tangy Asian-inspired sauce. I mixed together soy sauce, white wine, sweet chili paste rice vinegar and brown sugar to taste.

Then I practiced my julienning skills on the carrot and I chopped some red bell pepper, green onion, celery and sugar snap peas.

Earlier in the week I had made a pork loin roast in the slow cooker since I had an evening meeting. I diced some of the left-over pork (morph #1) and marinated it briefly in the sauce I had made before-hand. I also added a couple of drops of dark sesame oil and then some cornstarch.

On with the cooking. Heat a pan over fairly high heat and add canola oil. Once the pan is hot, add the carrot and onion. Saute for a bit before adding the remaining veggies.

Add the pork and the sauce and simmer until the sauce has thickened. Remember, the pork was already cooked, so at this point I just needed to heat the meat through.

And this is the finished dish. While I was working on prepping the sauce and the veggies, I had a pot of rice cooking on the back burner.

Today I decided to use the left-overs from last evening's dinner in a slightly different way (morph #2).

Today's mise en place. I decided to chop all the veggies into roughly the same size pieces. I finely sliced some of the green scallion for a garnish for the finished dish. I also have the left-over rice, the rest of the slow-cooked pork loin, an egg and some teriyaki sauce I made. Can you guess what I'm making yet?

I heated some canola oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Then I cooked a scrambled egg until it was almost cooked through. Remove to a dish and add more oil. Turn the heat up a bit. Unfortunately, the non-stick coating on the pan isn't quite so non-stick any more. Don't you just hate when that happens?

I once again begin by sauteeing the onion and carrot. After a few minutes add the celery, sugar snap peas and then the red bell pepper.

Add in the rice and turn the heat down a bit.

Since the non-non-stick issue has once again reared its ugly head, I quickly added the pork and the teriyaki sauce I had made earlier.

The most important thing to remember about cooking a dish such as this is to have all the prep work done before even turning on the stove. The cooking process goes very quickly and there is no time to cut, chop or measure at this point.

I folded in the scrambled egg, scattered the thinly-sliced green scallion over the top and turn off the heat. And yes, you are right: this is my version of pork-fried rice. You are so very clever.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spring Blooms, I

I am happy to report that the first of my flowers have burst into bloom.

My first flowers of the season. The crocus have not yet opened for the day.

A couple of hours later and the crocus have awakened.

The Cleveland Select Pear trees are beginning to bud out.

One of these plants is not like the other. Can you guess? That's right, it's the rosemary, because unlike the thyme and the chives, it is dead. While the chives have already started growing for the year, the thyme will need just a bit more time. (Oh, I'm funny.)

And now we have the first plant I have potted this year. You know, I can never remember if I am planting plants, potting pots, planting pots, or potting plants.

Later in the day and the crocus are even more beautiful.

Lichen on one of my dogwood trees. The good news? The presence of lichen indicates that we have a healthy, relatively polution-free environment. The better news? Lichens do not in any way, shape or form harm the host plant.

Oh, I am a happy gardener, indeed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

An Easter Trip

Can I tell you how much fun it is to spend six hours in the car in order to visit with family for Easter Sunday? At least my husband was willing to drive so I could take pictures that I can share with you.

Get comfortable, fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride.

Here we are at one of the higher points in Brown County, Indiana. This is always a beautiful view.

After passing by Nashville, Indiana, we zipped through Gnaw Bone. It would appear that Gnaw Bone's chief industries are flea markets. Gnaw Bone. I just love that name. Gnaw Bone.

And now we have arrived at Columbus, Indiana, the home of NASCAR past champion Tony Stewart, driver of the number 20 The Home Depot car. The funny thing is that there is no The Home Depot in Columbus, Indiana. There is a Lowe's and there is a Menards, but no The Home Depot. How is Tony going to do his home improvements?

Anyway, Columbus is renowned for its architecture. They even love to do neat bridges, such as this bridge on I-65 and Indiana Rt. 46.

Down the road just a bit and we have a newer bridge over the East Fork White River. Remember this bridge, you will be seeing it again on the way back.

And look at the very nice town park in the tiny town of Hartsville, Indiana. What's that you ask? How can such a small town afford to build such a nice park? It's simple when you learn that Hartsville is a notorious speed trap. If the speed limit sign says 30 mph, you had better be doing 29 mph at the line and don't speed up until you pass the next sign. They like their speeding ticket moneys.

And don't I just have the sweetest husband? He even took a detour so I could get these pictures for you. Greensburg, Indiana is the home of the historic Tower Tree. Beginning in the early 1870's, a tree began growing out of the tower. There has been a tree growing out of the tower ever since. The trees are believed to be Mulberry trees and are the source of much amusement and speculation.

I wasn't too comfortable driving down I-74 at 70 mph behind this fully loaded truck and trailer. We decided not to linger.

Ohio welcomes us. We ended up driving through our old stomping grounds on our way up to my brother-in-law's house. West Chester, Ohio is still growing by leaps and bounds. Lakota Schools, which was the state's 10th largest school district when our children attended, is now Ohio's 7th largest school system. I have to say that after 10 years away, I don't miss living in the land of suburbs.

Finally! We are heading back home to Indiana.

A mural in Middletown, Ohio.

Almost there...

While the drive over had been nice and sunny, we passed through snow showers on the way home. But the clouds were pretty.

I told you that you would be seeing this bridge again. It is nicely lit at night, but we were thankfully too early for the light show.

Well, we got you back home safely. Hope you had a nice trip.