Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Sunday Evening Dinner

After my husband and I tried the Blarney Puffballs (registered, The Irish Lion Restaurant) a couple of weeks ago, I had been given the directive to find the recipe for these little bundles of goodness.

Fortunately for me, fellow world-famous blogger, Rosie Hawthorne of Kitchens Are Monkey Business, took up the gauntlet and made her version recently. Since Rosie had taken some of the Monkey Business out of recreating the recipe for me, I started with her notes and ran.

Here is my partial mise en place for my take on Irish Pancakes Patties.

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 Yukon Gold potatoes

1/4 cup flour

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 egg

1/2 shallot, grated

1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped

1 teaspoon rosemary, chopped

4 garlic cloves, grated

First I peeled and cubed the potatoes before adding to some water and sprinkling with some kosher salt. The potatoes cooked in the microwave for about six minutes, until fork tender.

I added the butter and mashed until fairly smooth. I then placed the potatoes in the refrigerator to cool.

Meanwhile, I grated the garlic, shallot and cheese. The minced herbs, flour, salt, pepper, baking powder and egg were mixed together and set aside.

Once the potatoes had cooled, I mixed in the other ingredients and put everything back into the refrigerator for another couple of hours.

Then, I wisely decided to make a test patty as after much deliberation, I opted to take Rosie's suggestion and make potato patties rather than puffballs. The deciding factor ended up being that with the patties I would not have to deep fry the potatoes.

I used a cookie scoop to measure out the right amount of potato mixture and then gently flattened the ball into a patty. I fried the patty in a bit of oil and served with a dollop of sour cream with a sprinkling of chives.

The Foodie daughter and I both decided that a bit of bacon would not be amiss and I finely chopped up some cooked bacon for the potatoes. More cheddar cheese was also added at this point.

I also decided to add in about 1 tablespoon of sour cream to the mix, just to kick things up a notch.

There, that looks much better. Back into the refrigerator.

Turning back to Rosie's recipe, I scooped out the potato balls before flattening and dredging in bread crumbs. And these patties then went back into the refrigerator to firm up before frying.

I fried a few patties at a time in canola oil before draining on a rack. The finished potato patties were then held in a warm oven until dinner time.

I had also chosen to bake a turkey breast roast for our dinner.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find an unseasoned turkey breast, so I settled for a roast that had added salt, dextrose, sodium phosphate and vegetable oil. It could be worse, I guess.

I wanted to make a special sauce for the turkey. I ended up creating my own sauce in the end, but I did start off with a recipe from the Internet.

3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2/3 cup turkey stock
2/3 cup sherry
1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoons water
1/2 cup Craisins, half chopped, half whole
1 teaspoon chives, chopped

The sherry, turkey stock and mustard cooked together for five minutes.

Then the Craisins were added.

The cornstarch slurry (cornstarch and water) were added along with the chives.
After tasting, yellow mustard, honey and black pepper were added to taste. Guess I couldn't leave well enough alone.

Not too bad, but I think I'll stick to my own recipe from now on.

Dinner is served.

The turkey breast was tender and flavorful. The sauce added just the right kick to the moist meat.

The Irish Potato Patties were a hit, with the bold flavors of the bacon, rosemary and chives adding just the right amount of interest to the potatoes. The sour cream and chopped chives on the side helped to ground and round out the flavors.

The Foodie daughter asked for corn with bacon, ignoring both her boyfriend's and my suggestion for broccoli as a side dish. Next time you get broccoli, dear daughter.

Everyone seemed to enjoy dinner and raved over the Irish Potato Patties.

I am a very happy Foodie.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Change is in the Wind

We are finally moving forward on getting a new deck addition on the back of the house. I am so looking forward to seeing this project finished. As is, our current deck is an overgrown balcony - an island overlooking the back yard. You want to go down to the yard? Go back inside, through the front of the house and then walk around the house and down hill to get to the back yard. Then, reverse the procedure to get back up to the balcony. Tired yet? I know I am. I have put up with this situation for eleven years and I am ready for the change. Bring it on already!

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair...

A friend of my husband's drew up these plans for us. Thanks, Rich, you did a great job. I think that the finished deck will be just a bit different from this when all is said and done, though.


This is the site before construction. Sigh, so much to do before the workmen even get here.

Thankfully, the daughter's boyfriend was more than happy to come over and help clean up. As it turned out, I really needed someone who wasn't afraid to get in and start trimming up a tree. I realize and accept that I am very tentative when it comes to hacking off tree limbs.

Here is our temporary nursery on the front porch. I have several perennials, a bush and four volunteer dogwood trees in pots here.

I woke up on Friday morning to see that the contractor and a helper were on site, getting an idea of what needed to be done on Monday. They were delighted to hear that I was giving away the winged Euonymus (burning bushes) that are in the area where the new deck will be. Later, they had an employee leave a truck full of gravel in front of the house over the weekend. I hope our neighbors don't mind too much.
I can't tell you how happy I will be once I can actually access the back yard from the deck. Yes, I love the solitude of my deck, but I am also a practical gal.

Saturday morning, while I let my sick family sleep in, I got to work on the existing deck. The decking and railing will be replaced as the current deck is fourteen years old and is showing its age.

Eleven years of outdoor decorating must now be removed.

I have never seen deck railing like this before. Let's hope I never see this again.

I will not be sorry to see this decking go. I have gotten enough splinters in my feet from these nasty pieces of wood already.
So stay tuned as we witness the amazing transformation of this deck and backyard.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Life with Minx

We are all still settling in here with the new cat and he constantly amuses and amazes us with his particular personality quirks.

I still can't but help but miss my dear Midnight who was my constant companion and lap-warmer, but Minx certainly is a joy in his own way. The foodie daughter likes the fact that Minx is not a one-person cat like Midnight was, even if the new cat and the boyfriend regularly face off over the daughter.

We have learned that Minx is highly inquisitive and is more than willing to boldly go where no kitty has gone before. The cat is even willing to explore bath tubs and shower stalls.

We have also discovered that Minx loves anything with feathers on it.

Minx also likes to watch the fish in the aquarium. He doesn't even mind when we kill the fish in the aquarium. Um, it's a learning curve?

Minx at play in his kitty cubicles.

No, Minx! You're supposed to go through the fabric tunnel, not around it!

"Why are you always flashing that thing in my face?"

Minx has found another feather toy.

Minx loves to sleep with his "daddy".

Heck, Minx just likes to be with his "daddy". Period.

Now, whenever we open the freezer door, Minx comes running. He is expecting us to drop an ice cube for him.

Minx loves to play with the ice cubes. They slide so nicely across the wood floors.

Nice Minx.


The Foodie Daughter just sent this picture to me...

Who says cats don't like baths? Well okay, as long as the bath tub is dry...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Foodie Girls Plus One

We were fortunate to have our 14-year-old niece visit with us this weekend. The foodie daughter and I had plans to introduce the young niece to Chinese (or at least American-Chinese) food on her visit with us.

We went to the China House Buffet here in Bloomington, as this is a good starting point for anyone who has never had anything even remotely resembling Chinese cuisine before.
And by the way? If I invite you to lunch, I don't expect for you to pay your way. You are my guest and I am more than happy to pay for your meal. I finally convinced my dear niece to let it be when I told her that I did not expect my daughter to pay for her lunch, so why would I ask her to pay for hers?
I love that girl.

But first, a lesson in chopstick handling is in order.

Grasp the first chopstick thusly.

Then place the second chopstick just so.

If you have the correct hold of the chopsticks, you will be able to 'scissor' them and grasp food with them.

Like this. You can practice at home with snack foods or popcorn. You may even find that it is easier to grasp food with chopsticks while taking a bite out of the food. Try that with a fork and the entire piece of food will likely end up in your mouth. Very awkward.

The Foodie niece jumped in and tried several different dishes.

The foodie daughter loaded her plate with things that she knew she liked.

And I selected foods that I could eat without having to reach for my rescue inhaler (ie: no chicken).
It was fun to introduce someone to a new cuisine. And bonus! The food was pretty good. We all win! I just love it when a plan comes together.

Flowers in the Garden
Finally some of my roses are blooming. Of course, the poor things are struggling valiantly against the weeds, especially the bind weed and the locoweed. Here's to hoping that my sinus infection subsides enough that I can actually get out in the garden this week and get to work.

My Rainbow's End miniature rose is blooming. As the blooms fade, they turn from yellow to pink.

The original grafted rose died and this bloom is from the root stock, Dr. Huey. Since I actually like the rose, I let it be.

One of my English Roses is blooming.

Beware if you see this rose growing in your garden. This volunteer is Rosa multiflora, or Multiflora Rose and will quickly take over an area. The rose is considered to be a noxious weed in many states, including Indiana.
Guess I need to get my battle gear on and get to cutting out these roses.

My Gertrude Jekyll English Rose is blooming. This is a highly fragrant rose, with a heady, heirloom-rose scent.

Another of my roses is in flower.

The coreopsis, or Tickseed, is starting to bloom.

More columbine in bloom.

Nigella, or Love-in-a-Mist.

Bearded Iris and Baptisia australis.

Very nice. Thanks for wandering around the garden with me.