Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Late Christmas Present to My Readers

Between preparing for the holidays and my other commitments, 
I have barely had time to myself, let alone time to blog.

With that in mind, I gathered up a few pictures of the season that I had been saving
and decided to gift them to you in this rare moment of downtime that I have.

It also doesn't hurt that I am currently stuck inside due to an early season blizzard.


 Festive lights on a horse-drawn carriage in downtown Indianapolis.

I liked the effect here as we sped past them on the street.

 The Circle Centre Mall Conservatory over Illinois and Washington Streets is lit up for the season.

 Another group enjoying a carriage ride.

 Monument Circle is lit up like a Christmas tree.

 The tree on the first floor of the Scottish Rite Cathedral is decked out.

 We enjoyed a lovely sunset on one of the final days of autumn.

 And then we received snow on the first day of winter.

I took this picture for friend and fellow blogger,
Rosie Hawthorne, of Kitchens Are Monkey Business fame.

I know how she loves her snow.

After I took this picture out the back door, I had to go collect the cat, who decided to venture outside.  Bad Minx.

 The next morning we awoke to find that we had about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of snow.

The schools were cancelled for the day.

 Fast forward to the day after Christmas and see what we woke up to see outside our windows.

Now this is what you call snow.

Thus far we have 11" of snow on the ground.

 Of course, this also means that I am stuck at home with a house full of people who couldn't get to work.

 We wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season,
from all of us at the Foodie household.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Eggs Benedict Chez Marilyn

We wanted something a bit different for dinner tonight.  But what?  Breakfast was mentioned.  Pancakes were also mentioned, but were quickly tossed aside.
Eggs Benedict became the clear front runner.

I went shopping and purchased the required ingredients.

Then we got in the kitchen and worked together to create our family's version of this classic dish.

Eggs Benedict Chez Marilyn
Serves 3

Hollandaise sauce:
1 egg yolk
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

6 slices bacon

3 slices ciabatta bread, sliced 1/2" thick and toasted

Fresh baby spinach, rinsed and patted dry

1 Roma tomato, sliced

3 eggs, poached

Salt and pepper to taste

Special equipment:
1 tablespoon white vinegar in simmering water to help keep egg whites together when poaching eggs

 While the bacon cooked in the toaster oven, I worked on the hollandaise sauce.
Gently cook the egg yolk and lemon juice in a bowl over simmering water, whisking constantly until the egg just turns color.  Add the pats of butter, one at a time, continuing to whisk until incorporated.
Then we poured it into a thermos so that it would stay warm until we were ready for it.

 Then I turned my attention to the poached eggs while the Foodie Daughter and Boyfriend worked on the other parts of the meal.

 Bacon is a beautiful thing.

 And this is even more beautiful.

The magical moment when one breaks into the yolk.

This was a very satisfying dinner.
I even caught the Foodie Daughter licking her plate.
Yes, it was that good.

But it was as much fun to make dinner together as it was to eat it together.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Birds

I awoke this morning to a strange whooshing noise outside the house.  At first I thought it might be the wind, but that didn't quite sound right.

Later, I saw shadows passing the window and I looked outside to see thousands of birds in the backyard.

I grabbed my iPhone and went outside.

 The strange sound was soon explained: the whoosh was the sound of their wings when the entire flock would take to flight at once.

 It was a magnificent sight.

After a bit they left the neighborhood, but not before eating all the berries on my dogwoods and leaving a mess on the deck and the Foodie Daughter's car.

Oddly enough, I later caught up with that same flock up in town.
After all, it's not that difficult to miss a flock that large.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A New Visitor to the Garden

The other day I looked out the library window and saw a most unusual sight.
I saw a large woodpecker unlike any I had seen before.

We often have a yellow-bellied sapsucker visit us during the winter, and sometimes a hairy woodpecker will come a knockin' at the door, so to speak.

But this is the first time that I have ever seen a pileated woodpecker.

It came to feast on the berries of the dogwood tree.

It was difficult to get a good picture of this beautiful bird through the screened window.
This is a large bird.

The pileated woodpecker came back this morning for more berries.

I think we have a repeat visitor.
I'm a happy amateur birdwatcher.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fall's Last Hurrah

Most of these pictures were taken a few weeks ago.

Sadly, with the rough year we have had, the colorful fall foliage was bright but brief. 

Jordan River in the middle of Indiana University is still running low.

Colorful trees across the parking lot at the Indiana Memorial Union.

Sugar maple on the west side of town.  
I am sorry that I missed the peak of this tree's magnificence.*

*Do as I say and not as I do: Don't take pics as you are driving!
Leave that for the professionals.

A late season bouquet.

And snow!

Ack, snow!
Make it go away!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Calm Before the Superstorm

Sunday evening I sat outside for a while on the deck and watched the sun set.

 This was a briefer sunset than that of the other evening.

 It was still pretty, though.

 Later that night I looked out the window and saw a halo around the full moon.

The halo is caused by ice crystals in the upper atmosphere.  They are often seen when storms, such as Hurricane Sandy, are nearby.
Meteorologists fielded many calls from people in the West and Midwest who saw this phenomenon on the evening of October 28.

Whatever the cause, a lunar halo is a striking sight.

The Foodie Family is thinking about all of our friends and readers on the East coast who are affected by Sandy.
Take care.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Lovely Sunset

This sunset was from late last week, but I thought that some of my readers might need a reminder that lovely things still exist in nature and weather.

 I love the reflection of the sunset in the window of the great room.

To all my readers and friends in the east, please stay safe.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

How to Deal with the End-of-the-the-Season-Tomatoes

Our tomatoes from our garden have already been touched by frost, so they are not looking so good.  They are still edible, but at this point in the season, they are perhaps better eaten cooked, rather than raw.

The really gnarly ones, I sliced up and placed on a baking sheet to dry out under very low heat.

I used the better tomatoes to make a kickin' tomato sauce.

 I found a recipe for fresh tomato sauce online
and then ran with it.*

*Me speak for I pretty much ignored the ingredients and the directions and made the recipe my own.  So what else is new?**

**Please pretend that the basil in the picture is oregano.
After some long and hard dialog back and forth between me, myself and I, 
I won out and decided that I couldn't stand the thought of blackened, chopped fresh basil interspersed in this lovely sauce.  So, I opted to go with fresh oregano instead, which is actually, in my mind, at least, more authentic.

First, boil some water and then immerse about 10 tomatoes*** in the water for a few seconds so that the peels can soften.  Then, after a quick dunk in cold water, it is an easy thing to rid the tomatoes of their skins.

Finally, chop them up and place them in a bowl. (***You want to end up with about 2 cups of chopped tomatoes)  Set aside for later.

And now for the rest of the ingredients:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 large carrot, grated
1 large celery rib, minced
2 large garlic cloves, grated
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 bay leaf
1 - 6 ounce can tomato paste
Kosher salt to taste
Brown sugar to taste - about 1/4 cup
1 Serrano pepper

 First, saute the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic for five minutes over medium-high heat with the olive oil until the veggies are beginning to sweat.  Add a pinch of kosher salt to the mix.

 Add the tomatoes, the Herbes de Provence, the bay leaf, and the wine.  Add another pinch of kosher salt to the mix.  Add about 1/2 cup water at this point.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  
Cover and simmer for two hours.
Use a potato masher to break down the tomatoes during the cooking process.  
No need to break out a blender or food processor today.

Add the tomato paste, the brown sugar and the Serrano pepper.  
Towards the end of the cooking time, taste the sauce and adjust for seasoning.

Remove the bay leaf and portion the sauce between packages before freezing or serving.

This made enough for two 3 cup servings of tomato sauce.

This sauce is fresh, tangy, and delightfully and unabashedly fresh,

I can't wait to use it on my favorite pasta dish.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Leonard's Springs in the Fall - After the Drought

One fine fall day a few weeks ago I ventured back to Leonard Spring's Nature Preserve to see how it had fared after this year's "exceptional drought." 

At one point this summer we were determined as being under the worst level of drought possible.  We are finally getting rain and the U. S. Drought Monitor Map now shows that we are now only "abnormally dry."

However, only time will tell how much damage was done to the trees and other important vegetation.

 Blue asters in bloom.
Asters are native flowers.

 One of the caverns in the nature preserve.

 The lower cave.

 Happily, the graffiti has been removed.
Now I am happy again.
Stupid gangs.

 The drought has really depleted the springs' water reserves.

 At first I was wondering where the falls were, but then I realized that I was standing where the falls usually ran.

 They are still very pretty.

 I love this shot.

 This is the underside of a massive uprooted tree.

On the way back to the car, I saw this fallen, decaying log that was giving life to new plants.

And I suppose that is the true lesson here.
Life is a perpetual cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

Less than ideal weather conditions may occur, but nature and life go on.