Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Season Confusion

I have seriously been confused about what season it is. High temps, snow the next day, pouring down rain the following, warm again, windy, tornadoes... Windows open, windows closed, basement leaking. (What else is new?)

One thing that always helps me know it is spring is when my beautiful dogwood tree blooms. It is my favorite time in my backyard. All of the bushes' buds are starting to open, and my dogwood blooms - in their unique color - always look especially nice with the deep red backdrop of my big Japanese Maple tree. (In contrast, my huge holly tree on the left needs a trimming and a lot of help. Hope to tackle that soon.)

I've always wondered why such a bright-colored, beautiful tree that welcomes spring here in the Midwest is named after a dog. (Not that dogs aren't beautiful!) So, that led to some late-night research on Wikipedia. If you've always wondered too, here are the facts under the heading Nomenclature.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mushroom Season

As I was lying in bed last night, I was again thinking about dinner. The only other thing that would have made supper better (besides having all of you there with me) would be the addition of fresh morel mushrooms. Mushroom season is beginning, and I need to get out and hunt. I've seen the cars start to line the woods by New Poag Road, and that means folks are starting to hunt for mushrooms in the woods around campus.

The mushrooms were probably especially on my mind because of something that happened earlier last evening. I came home to find the neighbor children working in my yard. They are part of a wonderful homeschooling family down the street that I've become close to. They watch my home and cats while I am away. And, I have paid them to do small odd jobs around the house so all of the kids can have a little bit of spending money at the dollar store. Well, they were raking the sweet gum balls out of my yard before I got home from the store... and what do you know?!? They found 3 morel mushrooms in my yard. They took them home to share with the family - which was ok by me. But, I had them show me exactly where they found them so I could keep an eye on that exact spot.

It would be wooondeeeeeerfuuuuul to have my own mushroom patch in the back yard. I need to stop writing about these because my mouth is watering just thiking about them. I'll keep you posted on my mushroomin' finds throughout the spring. Do you like fried morel mushrooms?

Monday, April 11, 2011

One of the Best Meals Ever

Tonight I had one of the best meals I've ever had. Some of you are going to laugh at me about this and my choices, but what else is new?!? Long story short, I raided the produce aisle at the grocery store, drove home, and served up this: Corn on the cob - I know. It's not in season. But whatever Shop N Save had did the trick. Not as sweet as the fresh kind will be this summer, but still sweet. White and yellow kernels. A little butter. A little salt. A little pepper. Voila! Brussel sprouts - Most people don't like them at all. As early as I can remember, I've loved them. Mom usually bought them from the freezer section, and I need to get those more often. But, I spied the fresh ones while grabbing some broccoli, and they would not let me go. Those delicious miniature cabbages. (Come on. That's basically what they are.) I didn't know how to cook them without boiling them to death. And, I don't have steamer. So, I put on my thinking cap and found the perfect way: using my egg poacher. Those little egg cups are perfect for holding 3 or 4 tiny sprouts. Topped with a slice of low-fat American cheese that melted all over them, they were delicious. Avocado - Yep. I cut it open, made a little criss cross design with a knife like Mom always has, squeezed on some fresh lemon, a dash of salt... and ready to eat! Thankfully, they were not outrageously priced like they usually are and there were actually some ripe ones for a change. So I can look forward to 3 more nights of this treat. I couldn't wait to sit down and scoop out those little squares of avocado with my spoon. Hard boiled egg - Nothing exciting about this. I just need protein. Plain old egg. Boiled. Simmered. Cooled. Peeled. Sliced. Ready to eat. Kiwi - Soft, but not too soft. Fuzzy skin peeled back to show that gorgeous green. Cut into slices. Lemon Shake-up with Splenda - I found some recipes on line, and I decided I don't need to wait for the fair once a year to have my favorite drink. Especially when lemons were on sale for some reason. (I thought this was supposed to be a high priced lemon year?!?!?) I'll keep experimenting. But the recipes I've found so far are soooooo good. I already dance in my kitchen. I just need to find a good shaker to perfect this while making shake-ups. I set all of it out on the big dining room table. I don't know if it is the change of the weather, the breeze blowing through the window, the sounds of children playing in the neighborhood or what. But, the meal made me think back to times when we lived on the farm or when we were at Grandma and Grandpa's house and almost everything that would have been on the dining room table would have been from the garden. Good, clean, fresh food. I miss those days and long for when I will have the time and the sunny space for a garden. The only thing that would have made tonight's dinner better would have been to have some of you family and friends here to share it with me. Instead, I just thought of each of you and prayed for each of you as I enjoyed the peaceful evening and wonderful meal. Now I've settled on the couch for a bit of reading, and I'm enjoying my dessert: a huge glass of ice water and a pear. I dug all of the way to the bottom of the heap to find the ripes one so I could eat them right away. They don't look too pretty, but they're scrumptious. Nothing like the DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookies I made for church this weekend. But, thankfully I had some forethought about me walking to the kitchen ever 5 minutes to retrieve one, so I gave the leftover cookies to the neighbor family. So, in their absence, I'm going to try to convince myself that the pear is a close second. :)