Monday, August 27, 2012

Gardens and Hope Spring Eternal

Despite the continuing drought, some plants in the garden are flourishing.

I am happy to report that the 4 1/2 inches of rain we got the other week has helped to move us down the drought scale from exceptional drought to extreme drought.  Heh, we'll take any improvement we can take.  And it is nice to finally be able to see some green grass again.  We haven't had that pleasure since early May.

 The butterfly bushes are alight with visitors.

 Dozens of bumblebees were droning around the bushes.

A monarch butterfly atop the butterfly bush.

 Fritillary butterfly.

 This pretty little blue flower is doing well under the considerable shadow of the butterfly bushes.  The only problem?  I have no idea what it is or even if I had planted it to begin with.
Rosie?  Any ideas?

 Sedum Autumn Joy about to go into bloom.

 Black swallowtail.

 But alas and alack, much of the back yard will have to be torn up and reseeded as this grass is dead, deader, and deadest.

If you look closely, the grass in the far distance is nice and green.  Too bad it is such a small portion of our yard.

Here are some better pictures of the mystery flower.

 While the flowers do indeed resemble periwinkle, or vinca minor, they are smaller, being only about 5/8"across and the flowers form a cluster.  The plant is also not a vine, but grows upright and is less than a foot tall.  The leaves are hairy and rough to the touch.

More research needs to be done.

The Foodies Take a Day Trip

The Foodie Husband went out of town for a few days, so the rest of the Foodies decided to take a road trip on Sunday afternoon.
We were hoping to try the famous Gnaw Bone breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, which is served at the Gnaw Mart, a gas station in the little town of Gnaw Bone, but we found out that the place is closed on Sundays.  

So we turned around and stopped at the nearby Brown County Winery and after tasting a few of their wines, picked out a couple to bring home with us.

Then we headed back down the road a bit to Nashville, Indiana for lunch.
 Nashville, Indiana is a tourist mecca, known for the nearby Brown County State Park, the rolling hills, the beautiful fall foliage, and the plentiful quaint shops that dot nearly every street and alley.

The road from Bloomington to Nashville is winding and hilly.
This is the view to the east at the top of one of the hills.

We decided to go to a restaurant we had been to before - The Artists Colony Inn.
As its name implies, the place also serves as a hotel, with rooms upstairs.

The place was full when we arrived.

We all were in the mood for breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches, so that's what we ordered.
I opted for onion rings to go with my sandwich.
They were light and not greasy.

The Foodie Daughter and Foodie Boyfriend each ordered sun fries, or sweet potato fries with a brown sugar sauce as their side.
The Foodie Daughter was in heaven.
I'm pretty sure I heard her "marry" at least one of the fries - right before she ate it.

The Artist Colony Inn makes a pretty good breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.

After lunch we went window shopping at some of the small shops around Nashville, but then we remembered that we didn't need new windows.
It was time to head back to B-town.
Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The 2012 Drought Continued and the Consequences

We had been warned and today it happened.
We are now under watering restrictions, a polite term for watering bans.

 For some strange reason my roses love this weather.

My English roses, which rarely even rebloom once,
have now rebloomed twice.

 At least some of my plants are happy.

 Somebody's got to be.

 This picture is much more representative of how my garden looks like right now.
Note the lovely brown color of the lawn.

 A butterfly visits the butterfly bushes.

Every spring I happily throw my house plants out onto the front porch.
I regain a large portion of my great room each spring.  I'm happy, the plants are happy.  I dread the fall when I have to bring these plants back inside.  The plants aren't happy, they make a mess, and they take up a good portion of the room.
Did I mention oh how happy I am when spring rolls back around?

Unfortunately, we are under a mandatory watering ban and it is now illegal for me to water my house plants while they are outside.  Oddly enough, I can legally water them inside.  Inside - legal.  Outside - illegal.  Got it?  Go figure.  As these proclamations came from a politician, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that they don't make any sense.

Soooo, I had to clean up my house plants and bring them inside a full two months too early.
Bah humbug!

We are not amused.

We are also now crowded.

At least I am still allowed to water my food plants.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Drought  in Southern Indiana - Continued

This stubborn drought just won't let let up.
We are begging for rain.

And every once in a while rain comes.
One tenth of an inch at a time.
Gee thanks.  You shouldn't have.  That's almost like an insult at this point.

Le sigh.  I guess at this point I guess we should just be happy we are getting any rain at all.
But since we are now classified as being in an exceptional drought region, we are feeling a bit desperate here.

On the way home the other day, I noticed that this barn lost the fight against gravity.

I stopped to see how Lake Monroe was doing.
Lake Monroe is our source of drinking water.
As this is Limestone Country, it is almost impossible to drill wells.
So reservoirs are the way to go for water needs around here.
Lake Monroe is down just over a foot.
  Normal pool level is 538 and the current level is 536.89.
We have been asked to voluntarily conserve water.  The problem for us is not the lack of water, but the ability of the water pumps to handle the demand.  As it is, they are running at full capacity and are in danger of burning out.

Wild flowers have taken root in the newly revealed land.

Aquatic plants are struggling to survive now that the waters have receded.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Turkey Marsala

I just knew that I had to recreate the dish that I had at Grazie! the other week.  
Unfortunately, veal can be difficult to find and expensive to boot.  I opted instead for turkey.  

I searched the Internet for a good recipe and finally found a springboard.*

*A recipe upon which I could base my interpretation

My ingredients are:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound Crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 green onions, not shown
1 large garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced
 1 1/4 pound of turkey cutlets, pounded thinly**
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
 2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup sweet Marsala wine
1 cup beef stock***

**Pounding the meat is good for releasing tension.  Try it sometime.

***The recipe calls for beef or veal demi-glace, but these are almost impossible to find unless you have made them yourself.  A demi-glace is a stock that has been reduced  greatly and then combined in equal parts with an espagnole sauce.

First the Crimini mushrooms, the green onion and the garlic were sauteed.

The mushrooms, green onion, and mushrooms were removed from the skillet.

Then the turkey cutlets, which had been beaten into submission and coated with flour and seasoned with salt, pepper, dried thyme, dried oregano, were sauteed in the olive oil until just done.****

****Please, never, ever overcook meat.  Meat is not your enemy, so don't treat it as such.

Add the stock and the Marsala wine to the pan and turn up the heat to high.  Scrape up the tasty bits from the bottom of the pan.

Once the sauce has begun to reduce, return the meat to the sauce and reduce the security around the area.

Turkey Marsala is served.

Served over mashed potatoes; this dish is a hit.

I thought this rendition was better than the restaurant's as I often couldn't tell the difference between the veal and the breading.  

Unfortunately, my husband thought that it would have been better without the Marsala wine sauce.  

But still, I will be making this dish again.