Friday, May 28, 2010

A Master Salsa

Fellow Master Gardener, Ms C,

has made this wonderful salsa for our meetings

a couple of times.

I finally e-mailed her and begged the recipe from her.

Luckily for me, and you,

Ms C not only gave me the recipe

but also gave me permission to share it here.

The first thing I learned was that this was not


but rather Avocado Feta Salsa.

Doesn't this look good enough to eat?

The mise en place consisted of

20 sweet grape tomatoes, cut in halves or quarters
2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
1 container (5-6 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (more if you would like)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (good quality required)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 avocados, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice*

*As you can see,

I have already made a switcheroo.
Tell me you're not surprised.

I had the lime on hand, so I used that instead of lemon.

The recipe directed me to mix the first nine ingredients together.


Then I chopped the avocados into large chunks

and added those along with a squeeze of lime.

Pretty, isn't it?

Good thing I have this picture to remind me,

because after the Foodie Boyfriend found it,

very little was left.**

Thanks so much, Ms C, for a wonderful recipe!

**If you are fortunate enough to have some leftover,

lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the salsa

to retard oxidation before sealing securely
with another piece of plastic wrap.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Clean Up on Aisle Three

Once again I find that I have several unrelated tidbits to share.

So let's just go at it, shall we?

Well, this is unusual.

I have to say that I've never seen a cat in such a position.

I guess it's comfy?

The other day I was trying to take a picture

of one of my peony blooms.

But every time I attempted to take the shot,

a certain cat would jostle my hand.

Click on the picture to see the tell-tale whiskers in the

lower left-hand part of the photo.


I scooted the cat away so I could get a clear shot.

The other evening

the Foodie Daughter ran into in the house

and demanded that we all rush out to the back deck.

This is the sight she wanted us to see.

Can anyone give me an explanation for this phenomenon?

For reference,

we are facing east-southeast at sunset.

There are clearly rays radiating from the horizon,

but this is directly opposite the position of the setting sun.

There is also a full moon.

Only twice have I witnessed this phenomenon,

both times from this same location

and at roughly the same time of day.

The last photo was taken using the automatic setting.

This photo was taken with the the night time landscape setting.

And this was taken with the sunset setting.

I would dearly love to hear your thoughts on why we

have a "false sunset."
After an embarrassing short Internet search,
I found the answer.
Huh? Who makes up these words?
I still don't quite understand it, but I'll accept it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Minx Strikes Again

The Foodie Daughter was recently able to catch a rare sight:

that of the felinus sinkoritus.

Or cat in sink.

This rare and elusive creature shows no fear
when confronted with his natural enemy - water.

"What, I'm happy here."

Let's just let this creature be, shall we?

All of you parents out there know what it is like,

trying to deal with sibling rivalry and all.

Apparently, the Foodie Daughter had too much time

on her hands and decided to play a trick on poor Minx.


Minx finally freed himself of that annoying bell and the feathers!


What are you gonna do with them?

Sweet Offerings at Sweet Grass

Sweet Grass is a relatively new restaurant in town

and I have been anxious to try it out.

Sweet Grass is the baby of two Johnson and Wales

graduates who have brought their love for the

food from the Carolina's to B-town.

I am proficient in Internet lingo

and I have been keeping tabs on this restaurant.

I have noted the complaints that eight dollars was a lot to pay

for a hamburger.

But I also note that many of these same people

seem to feel that a certain restaurant

that features a clown as its mascot

is the baseline for all things culinary.

Now, I live by the motto that you pay what you get for.

And I certainly am willing to pay a bit more to get a bit more.

Sweet Grass Restaurant is housed in the space

that formerly held a neighborhood grocery store.

The Powers That Be in Bloomington

are terribly fond of the planned neighborhood concept,

wherein single-family homes,




and retail stores are all within walking distance.

The grocery store is just one example of a fail.

That doesn't stop TPTB from trying, though.

When I arrived just before noon,

only two tables were filled.

I was seated in the center of the room,

facing the bar.

The kitchen is open

and sits next to the entrance.

A trickling fountain dominates the entry.

A leather seating group and more tables

inhabit the bar area behind the wall.

I had already decided that I would be ordering

the Shrimp Po Boy.

Sources suggest that the Po Boy hails from New Orleans,

though accounts differ on the origin of the name.

The sandwich and freshly made potato chips arrived shortly.

The sandwich features fried shrimp,

breaded sweet peppers,

and Carolina slaw

served with herb ranch dressing

on a hoagie.

This sandwich was huge and I opted to cut it in half

in order to better eat it.

The slaw was slightly sweet and the peppers

were slightly tangy, while the shrimp were just tasty

and perfectly cooked.

Make no mistake:

this was a messy sandwich,

but it was so very good.

I would say that this was the best Shrimp Po Boy

I have ever had,

but it is also the only Shrimp Po Boy I have ever had.

The bar has been set.

I will be back to this nice restaurant.

Oh, and that nearly empty place I entered?

By the time I left,

nearly every table was filled.

That is always a good sign for the restaurant.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spring Flings


and join me in a meandering tour of all things spring.

My bearded iris is blooming.

As is the Baptisia australis,

or False Indigo.

The chives are also in bloom.

Bonus, the blooms are edible.

Just remember to rinse them off first

to get rid of the little bug-wuggies.

My Little Kim lilac is in full bloom.


This columbine is also flowering.

One of my azaleas is happy to greet the spring.

This beauty is an English Rose,

created by David Austin.

Please meet Gertrude Jeckyll.

She is a highly fragrant rose

and a perfume industry has sprung up in England

to harness her heady scent.

Think old-world roses,

think a heavy, heavenly scent

and you just might come close to

imagining what this lovely lady smells like.

I really do wish you could smell this rose.


Gertrude Jeckyll is very prone to black spot

and is a somewhat weak grower.

But if you catch that scent,

then you are hooked.

This is the new bed by the new deck.

I placed several perennials in here,

including but not limited to,

yarrow, mallow, artimesia, peony,

garden phlox, echinacea, yada, yada, yada.

In the foreground is my new rose,

the Knockout (tm) Rose.

Some annual nigella (love-in-a-mist) have reseeded here also.

The dear husband is spreading mulch over newspaper.

The newspaper will help to block out the weeds

and will also eventually break down and feed the plants.

Very nice.

Thank you, dear husband.

These plants will take off now that they have been mulched.

This morning the storms rolled through.

At 8:45 AM it got so dark that the solar lights turned on.

Now, that is dark.

A little while later the seasonal stream that runs through

our neighbor's yard and ours filled with water.

A seasonal stream means that water only flows in it

during a heavy rain.

I went out after the rains and caught some of

of my flowers in bloom.

The foxglove is flowering.

Just don't mind the bindweed and the


I haven't gotten to this part of the garden yet.

One of my peonies is showing off.

Another Gertrude Jeckyll rose is blooming.

I really wish you could smell this rose.

And now on to another sure sign of spring

in Southern Indiana.


I picked out four morels

from my local grocery store.

The sign on the bin read $59.99/lb.

And now you know why I only got four

and why I also purchased a package of Crimini mushrooms.


after leaving the store,

I realized that the store had only charged me $37.99 a pound.

So, for these four morels, I paid $3.80 or 95 cents a piece.

Still a pricey proposition

but better than it could have been.

I shook out the morels and then rinsed them three times

until no more bug-wuggies washed out.

This was the first time I ever had bug-wuggies in the morels.

Go figure.

I wiped the Crimini mushrooms clean and cut them in half.

Then they sauteed in olive oil and butter over high heat

until browned.

Once they were nicely browned,

I seasoned them with freshly cracked black pepper and

sea salt.

Never salt mushrooms while they are cooking

or they will sweat and steam rather than saute.

The Foodie Boyfriend has found a new love.

These were good.

They were better than good.

They were great.

And that is why these elusive delicacies

cost up to sixty dollars a pound.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

May your day be filled
with laughter and joy!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Night at the Scottish Rite Cathedral

Loyal readers will recall that my husband

is affiliated with the

Valley of Indianapolis Scottish Rite.

Last evening we traveled up to Indy

to watch the annual installation of officers.

Fortunately for us,

we were merely spectators this time as my

husband finished his term as Thrice Potent Master

a year ago.

That was a good thing too

as this particular Friday is the day that many

of the underclassmen at IU leave town.

There was also a nasty accident that tied up traffic

for several minutes.

Hopefully all involved suffered no injuries.

We arrived a bit late and surreptitiously snuck

in the back way to avoid interrupting the proceedings.

I took this time to take some pictures of the beautiful

Gothic architecture of the auditorium.

The woodwork is carved Russian curly oak.

Artisans from Germany truly showed their mastery

in woodworking.

Please click on the photos to reveal the intricate details.

A unique chandelier.

Carved relief in the paneling.

I have been trying to get a good photo of the metal gate

at the main entrance to the auditorium.

This time I decided to just turn on the flash

and get those pictures.

I love the spider and its web in the top corner.

Oops, do any of you spot a problem with

this spider?

More detail.

It turned out that a wedding was taking place

in this room after we moved across

to the ballroom.

I'm so glad that I took these pictures when I did.

And now we are in the ballroom.

Have I mentioned that I love this chandelier?

It has 200 lights

(and it seems that a few are in need of being replaced)
and weighs about 2,500 pounds.

Think I can take it home with me?


I didn't think so either.

I'll spare you the lengthy speeches

and let you admire more of the architecture.

A wide balcony overlooks the ballroom.

Bob Hope reportedly loved this ballroom,

proclaiming it to be the best dance floor he had ever been on.

Gotta love all that intricate carving.

One of the "simpler" lights in the ballroom.


These lights hang from the pillars surrounding

the dance floor.

Now this is a Masonic event,

so of course there was food.

The salad arrived.

It was mixed greens,

goat cheese (I think),

sliced pears,

red grapes,

a crumbled nut mixture

and a nice vinaigrette.

I do wish they had a dinner menu handy

so we knew for sure what we were eating.

I can tell you what I didn't have.

That would be the main entree

of a chicken breast in a cream sauce with pignolis,

green beans

and some unidentified starch.*

*None of those present at my table could tell me what it was.

And I didn't dare try it, so I can't tell you.

This is what I had.

Black pepper (yikes!) crusted tofu with a piquant sauce

and topped with crispy red tortilla strips.

It was good, but terribly spicy.

Also the tortilla strips were difficult

to eat in a polite setting.

A colorful presentation,

but not terribly practical to try to eat.

And for the first time,

I really didn't mind eating tofu.



dessert arrived.

This was a light mousse with kiwi, pineapple

and fried triangles of phyllo.

I wish to thank my fellow diners for

putting up with my "flashes"

while trying to photograph

these dishes in the low light.


A wonderful job as always.

They have always been great about working around my pesky

chicken allergy and I appreciate that.

The Scottish Rite Cathedral

has recently put in LED lights to accent

the bell tower of the cathedral.

This move not only adds interest

and variety to the edifice

but saves a great deal of money in electrical bills.

Every few seconds the color changes.

I particularly like the blue light.

But I really like the purple.

Safe travels.