Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Flowers That Bloom In the Spring




Spiderwort and Arum Dracunculus in the Creepy Garden





Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Guys - Part 2 -- Cooking with Cory



The guys ate well -- there was a feast up at our house on Saturday night and the star of the show was Cory's (the guy, not the cat) Pork Tenderloin with Bacon Marmalade.



Cory is a terrific cook and often sends me recipes he's invented/ adapted. They are always wonderful and this pork was no exception.



Along with the pork, we had Orzo Salad that Justin made, a delicious "Cheesy" Vegan Cauliflower Bake made by the wife and mother of two of the crew, potato salad, green salad, and garbanzo salad. No one went away hungry.


And here, in his own words, is the recipe for Cory's Pork Loin with Bacon Marmalade:

Pork loin, general methodology:
7ish pound whole loin
Split down the middle and salt heavily on all surfaces
Rest in the refrigerator over night - up to 3 days

Bacon marmalade:
-Several big yellow or vidalia onions coarsely chopped
-1 pound of thick cut bacon, most of the fat rendered out in a 300 degree oven (fat reserved)
-caramelize the onions low and slow in some of the bacon fat, adding a bit of apple cider vinegar every 5 minutes or so (about an hour of cooking)
add the cooked bacon in close to the end and add more fat and/or brown sugar, vinegar to tweak the fat/sweet/sour quotient to taste

Back to the roast:
- stuff the dry brined loin with the marmalade and tie up as best you can with butcher's twine
- dry rub the tied up beast with chili powder (i bought dried peppers, toasted them in a skillet and pulverized in a blender.)
-cook at 350 until the thickest part of the loin reaches 130 degrees Fahrenheit, about an hour and 45 in my case, the warm stuffing greatly accelerated cooking time
- take the roast out to rest for 30- 45 minutes and crank the oven to 500 (or fire up the grill)
- put the pan drippings in a sauce pan, add dried oregano, butter and reduce
- broil / grill the beast until crispy on the outside
- rest for 5 minutes, carve, drizzle with the dripping/butter sauce and serve.




Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Guys -- Working Together


What are these men smiling about? I'll tell you . . .


Ably directed by our friend and neighbor Mark Anderson, over the weekend, they raised the roof on Justin and Claui's back porch and enclosed it. Eventually this new space will contain a dining area, as well as enlarging two existing bedrooms. 


The shop crew did the measuring and cutting for the walls.




The back wall, assembled and ready to be raised.


Lots of manpower ready to lift.

Waiting for the word from Mark . . .



The Boss -- Mark was a student of ours back in Florida and got his start in carpentry and construction when, as a teenager, he helped John build our house back in '75.



Going up . . .



Almost there . . .



It's up! Now it has to get moved forward . . .


Hold steady . . .


Time for the BIG hammer . . .

Knocking that wall into place . . .





Inch by inch . . .

Slowly moving into alignment . . .


And it's just right!



John (the designated gofer) is back from a run to Lowes for more supplies . . .


And the guys will take a break for lunch. When I return a few hours later, I'm amazed to see what's been accomplished.


Dried in!


Time for a gloat beer -- time to sit and savor the feeling of accomplishment.


It's suggested that I get a group picture  . . . and with a bit of good-natured grumbling, the guys (Mark has already left, alas) line up.

You couldn't ask for better friends than these!


(Note to Josie fans: Josie and Claui were in Arkansas for the weekend, celebrating Claui's sister's birthday. That's why no Josie pics.)

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day Sells



The whole brouhaha about NFL players "disrespecting the flag and service members" by kneeling during the national anthem just doesn't go away. Fanned by the president (aka Cadet Bone Spurs,) it's a hot button issue for those who value token patriotism over actual reality.


It occurs to me, on this Memorial Day, that nothing seems quite so disrespectful to our flag and our military as turning this holiday -- that began as a day to visit cemeteries and honor those who died while serving in the military - into a star-spangled lollapalooza sale-a-ganza.



 MACY'SSUPERWEEKEND!
WALMARTMEMORIALDAYSAVINGS!ROOMTOGOFURNITUREMEMORIALDAYCOUPONEVENT!HOMEDEPOTAPPLIANCESALE!
BESTBUYSAVINGS!
CARS!TVS!CLOTHES!GUNS'N'AMMO!
IT'SALLONSALE!
BUY!BUY!BUY!
THEYDIEDSOYOUCOULDSHOP . . .

The American Way? 

Alas. It doesn't seem right . . . but then, so much doesn't seem right to me these days.














Sunday, May 27, 2018

Peonies by Mary Oliver


 This morning the green fists of the peonies
are getting ready to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away
to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?
 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme . . .


Also Bay, Basil, Tarragon, Lavender, a Cherry Tomato, and Cilantro in my porch garden. I have more herbs down in the garden but decided it would be nice to have some handy when I'm cooking. 


I believe I need to add Chives, Dill, and Oregano to the porch gang. Maybe Perilla too, because I've got lots of volunteers down in the garden. It's a pretty purple plant that a friend gave me years ago. It self seeds prodigiously but I don't know really what to do with it. 

A quick search yielded THIS ARTICLE on Perilla aka Shiso. Maybe this will be the year I learn to use it.


Friday, May 25, 2018

The Feather Thief



A talented young man's obsession with fly tying leads him to break into a natural history museum and make off with hundreds of irreplaceable bird skins from the collection.  


Kirk Wallace Johnson, the author of The Feather Thief, became obsessed, not with fly tying but with the story of the break in, the detective work that caught the thief, and the question of what happened to the many skins still unaccounted for after the young man's arrest. 

As the story unfolds, Johnson paints a vivid picture of the Victorian era explorers and natural historians who built the collection, as well as the rare and beautiful birds collected.


He tells the heartbreaking tale of species hunted to near extinction for the sake of millinery -- until at last the practice was banned. 

 Of course, a ban doesn't prevent the existence of a black market and the author's investigations into the theft uncovered a thriving trade in illegal feathers -- all so tiers could use the same type of feathers used by tiers at the end of the 19th century.

The book is a fascinating glimpse into past times -- and an obsessive pastime.

 HERE is a brief review from Kirkus.