Saturday, April 28, 2012

Breaded Shrimp and Spinach Salad

The Foodie Boyfriend was not around 
last Thursday, so I dug in the freezer
and found a container of 
our wonderful Gulf shrimp from Fabian Seafood.

They came up to B-town for the first 
time this season last week.
So of course I had to stand in line and 
purchase some tasty shrimp fresh from the Gulf.
 I let the shrimp thaw in the refrigerator overnight
so it would be ready by dinner on Thursday.

 Here is the tease of the finished dinner.

 I was tired of having sauteed shrimp,
so I decided to deep-fry this batch.
First I deshelled the shrimp and
patted them dry.
Then I dusted them with about a couple of 
tablespoons of the dry tempura mix.
This will help the wet batter stick to the shrimp.

I mixed about 1/4 cup tempura mix with
enough beer to make a runny batter.

I mixed this together at least 30 minutes ahead 
of time so the liquid can properly absorb into the 
dry ingredients.

I heated enough oil in a sauce pan over 
medium-high heat until the oil reached 350 degrees.

As the Foodie Boyfriend is allergic to shellfish,
I am careful to keep this oil separate
from other frying oils.
Clear labeling is very important
when dealing with food allergies.

Once the oil has reached the proper temperature,
I fried three to four shrimp at a time
for only one to two minutes.

Then I drained them on a rack over a baking sheet.

I chose to eat the shrimp with the spinach salad,
while my husband and the Foodie Daughter
treated them as two separate dishes.

This was so light and delicious and not greasy 
at all.

There is nothing like Gulf shrimp.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Garden in Late April

The garden and the weeds are doing well,
despite a hard freeze a couple of weeks ago.

 My first peony is in bloom.

In fact, this is the first time this peony has bloomed for me,
as it is a young plant.

Peonies are long-lived perennials and have been known
to live as long as 50 years or more.

 The chives are in bloom.
The flowers can be picked, cleaned and used in salads.
They have a sharp, garlicky flavor.

 One of my foxglove that I had planted last year
is blooming.

Foxglove, or Digitalis, is poisonous.
Do not ingest any part of this plant.
The plant is used to make digoxin, a heart medicine.

 The Latin name, Digitalis, comes from the fact that 
the flower can be fitted over the finger, or digit, like a glove.

 My late-flowering lilac, Miss Kim, is flowering early
this year.

 The rhododendron in full bloom.

 The azalea in full bloom.

And another azalea in full bloom.

Now, I just have to get there out and weed and trim.
No rest for the gardener.

Friday, April 20, 2012

More Morels!

It's finally time for that Hoosier classic - morels!
And since morels are going for $37.99 a pound this year,
I rounded out the dish with Crimini mushrooms.

Morels are wild mushrooms*
that can be found growing in the woods in the spring time.

*Some would argue that morels are not truly mushrooms
as they do not have gills and spores. I fall within that camp.
I would argue that morels are a related fungus,
but are not mushrooms.

Morels are not to be eaten raw.
Unlike other mushrooms, morels should be cleaned in water,
as they are hollow and critters like to hide inside.
Unless you like to eat some unexpected protein 
with your morels,
you do need to rinse these delectable fungi before patting dry
and cooking.

 Heat one tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and four tablespoons
unsalted butter in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat
before adding sliced Crimini mushrooms and the dried morel

Spread out into an even layer and leave alone!
Allow the 'shrooms to caramelize before turning.

Once the mushrooms have turned a nice golden brown,
turn and then allow the second side to brown as well.

Remove from heat and finally salt and pepper.

Never salt mushrooms while they are cooking as that will
retard browning.

The finished dish.

Earthy, meaty, filling.

Too bad we can only afford this lovely treat once a year.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Garden in April

The garden is beginning to take off
and the colors are exploding.
It's enough to make even the most hardened of hearts melt.

 Until last year this azalea had been hidden under
two barberry bushes.
Finally, it is its time to shine.

 A Columbine.

 A Heuchera, or coral bells in bloom.

 My Rhododendron in bloom.

Typically, rhododendrons and azaleas do not do well
in this area as they like acidic soil
and we, being in limestone country, have alkaline soil.

I seem to be blessed as my plants are doing well.

 Close up of the rhododendron blooms.

 English Perfume, an English Rose.

And yes, it does smell quite lovely.
 I'm sorry that it opened too late for the Hawthornes to enjoy it.

 Gertrude Jekyll, another English Rose.
This is a highly perfumed rose.
She is also very temperamental.


 Another Columbine.

 Glade bluestar or Amsonia tabernaemontana.


 Yet another Columbine.

 Another view.

And what is this???!!
I'm so ashamed.
I'm just glad that the Hawthornes weren't here to see this.
This is mutinus elegans, or the Devil's Dipstick.
It is a phallic fungus as one can easily imagine from its appearance.

Hmph, and right out there where just anyone can see...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lunch with the Hawthornes

I received wonderful news the other day.
News that Rosie Hawthorne 
and Mr. H would
be traveling through Bloomington on their way
to points West.

I have been wanting to meet my Internet friend
and fellow blogger for the longest time.

This was an important event in the Foodie household.

I learned this morning, via Rosie's blog,
that Mr. Hawthorne is on a high-protein diet,
so I quickly did some research for a suitable
The restaurant I chose was one that was highly rated.
It was also one I had never visited.

I kept my fingers crossed that I had chosen well.

 After the Hawthornes arrived at my house and 
we joyfully met in person for the first time,
I drove them to our destination:

Upland Brewery is one of the many 
B-town independent restaurants that believes in supporting
local farms, thus improving the quality and taste of the food.
This also helps to benefit the community and to help
reduce the carbon footprint. 

Sorry about the really fuzzy picture.
I'm pretty sure that this is one of Murphy's Laws:
Take one picture of something and it will turn out crappy.
Take multiples and they will all be great.

 We sat by the window overlooking the outdoor patio.

 After perusing the menu,
Mr. H decided to order the Buffalo Chili.

This was made with locally raised ground buffalo (bison),
simmered in a spicy tomato broth with black beans,
vegetables, smoked chilies, and Bad Elmer's porter.

I do believe that Mr. H was happy with his bowl of chili
as he polished it straight off.

 Rosie was craving some substantial food and ordered the Upland Nachos.
This mountainous pile of food contained blue corn tortilla chips,
melted mozzarella and cheddar-jack cheeses, diced tomatoes,
fresh jalapenos, black beans, and spicy beef (an extra) with 
a side of chipotle salsa.  
Rosie also asked for sour cream on the side.

Rosie was one happy girl,
although she declared that there was no way she could
eat all this herself.

Indeed, she asked for a box and we took the remainder 
home to the Foodie Boyfriend - who promptly devoured the rest.

 Being a born, if not bred, Hoosier,
I had to try out Upland's version of the quintessential Hoosier sandwich,
the breaded pork tenderloin.

I ordered the fries "extra crispy."

This was a good sandwich.
This pork tenderloin was not one of those frozen patties.
There was no gristle.
It was tender and I didn't have to add salt and pepper to the 

The fries, as requested, were extra crispy.
They were also house-cut. 

This is how you set yourself apart from your
Do things right and made the food taste good.

 Then, Mr. H ordered a beer-battered cod
so that my husband and I would know if this would be a 
good place to go for seafood.

It received the Hawthorne seal of approval.

I done did good!!

Then I took the Hawthornes on a tour of
which is one of the largest student unions
in the world.

At about 500,000 (that's half a million, folks!) square feet, it is huge.
It encompasses one of the largest hotels in B-town,
several restaurants, study areas, meeting spaces,
stores, a beauty salon, pool hall, arcade, and bowling alley.

 For some unknown reason,
there is a statue of a giraffe in front of the IMU.
I happened to snap a picture of this lovely couple 
with the giraffe.

And now, Rosie and Mr. H will learn what they missed
by leaving so early.

 I had planned on making a brie en croute for my special guests.

The ingredients are
1 puff pastry sheet
1 8-ounce round of brie
3 to 4 tablespoons F.R.O.G. preserves (Fig, Raspberry, Orange, Ginger)

 After thawing out the puff pastry sheet, 
place the brie in the center of the sheet.
Then spoon the preserves on of the brie.

 Carefully gather up the corners and edges of the pastry
to the center and pinch together.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

In keeping with my recent trend of meatless 
(or in this case, mostly meatless) Mondays,
I prepared mixed salads of Romaine lettuce and baby spinach
with strawberries and sliced red onions.
While the others had the usual grated mozzarella cheese,
I opted to go with crumbled Dubliner Irish cheese.

I decided that I liked having a bit of the brie en croute 
with my salad.

It was so wonderful to meet this absolutely delightful woman
and her charming husband.

Safe journeys Rosie and Mr. H
and I look forward to seeing you again.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Spring Walk in Leonard Springs Nature Park

Thursday was a lovely day,
so I decided to start it out by visiting Leonard Springs.
After all, I had promised myself last fall
that I would return to this lovely park in different seasons.
And if I can't keep promises to myself,
then I have a problem.

 I found that the wildflowers were in bloom.
Yellow Rocket, or Bararea vulgaris.

Dwarf or Spring larkspur.

Trillium sessile or Wake Robin.

Golden Ragwort.

The upper cave.

Another picture of Dwarf Larkspur.

And another Trillium sessile.

Color me unhappy.

Graffiti has little use in my happy little world,
but even less use in such a lovely place such as this.


Are you kidding me???!!!!

Take your spray paint and put it where the sun don't shine.

And I don't mean in a cave.

Abundant algae in the stream.

Wild ginger.

Water hemlock.  
This plant is in the carrot family,
but this particular plant is considered to be the most
poisonous plant in North America.

Ingesting even a tiny bit of this plant will kill you.
It is not advisable to even touch this plant..


It has been dry here lately,
so the springs are running a bit low for this time of year.

I even found another waterfall on this visit.

Looking downstream.

Moss on a tree trunk.

Celadine Poppy.

I still like the sculptural element of this fallen tree.


Another Golden Ragwort.

A view of the remains of the Leonard Springs Reservoir.

Mosses on the ground.

Daisy Fleabane.

Oh look, I've made a new friend!

Thanks for coming along on my brisk walk.
I feel energized.  

And ticked off.
Not to worry.
I've notified the proper authorities.