Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cranberry Apple Pie

Fun Facts to Know & Tell:
I have never tried Pumpkin Pie.

Whenever I mention that at a holiday dinner, someone inevitably takes the fork that was recently inside their mouth and pokes it at me, hoping I'll try a bite. I don't like, or dislike, Pumpkin Pie.

I simple prefer pretty little cranberries to messy orange pumpkins, filled with slimey junk and ghostly white seeds. Once you try my pie, you will, too.

Cranberry Apple Pie
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh, lovely, cranberries
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 5 sliced Granny Smith apples
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 Pillsbury pie shell (Don't bother making your own. Face it. They're better at this than we are.)
Luscious Topping
  • 1 cup crushed Graham Crackers
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
Create the Masterpiece:
  • In a saucepan, mix together sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and salt.
  • Stir in cranberries and maple syrup.
  • Cook over high heat, stirring, until mixture comes to a boil.
  • Stir in apples, simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Pour apple mixture into pie shell; sprinkle in the walnuts. Sprinkle on the Luscious Topping.
  • Bake 30 minutes @ 375 (F) degrees.
Serving Suggestion:
Cut yourself a big slice and wait for a Pumpkin Pie lover to say something derogatory. Then slowly remove the fork from your mouth, scoop up a sample size piece from your plate and ask them to try a bite, germs and all. It's only fair.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Best. Ever. Green Bean Casserole

Even if you hate beans, you should consider growing the Scarlet Runner Beans. 
Those pretty flowers are hugely popular with people & hummingbirds.

T-48 hours to Thanksgiving ~ I'm not the slightest bit worried ~ and I haven't started grocery shopping. But, I've got the list. It was dictated to me. By my in-house chef!

How lucky can a gal be? My pastry chef cousin is staying in our apartment for the winter. This guy cooks like you would not believe and he loves every minute of it! He even keeps his own sourdough starter for the most delightful breads.

The second I announced the big feast was my responsibility he started rattling off this, that and the other thing. Saying if I'd brave the crowds at the grocery, he would do the cookin'!

He's handing everything but the beans. I pat Campbell's Soup on the back for originally developing this recipe. But, you're not gonna catch me using canned soup for a holiday side dish.

This is a much fresher, from scratch version of that best-loved...

Ultimate Green Bean Casserole Recipe
(Feeds an army)
  • Snap 2 pounds of fresh green beans into bite-size pieces.
  • Drop them into a pot of boiling salt water (use a generous amount of sea salt.)
  • Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Drain beans in a colander, then plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. (They'll be bright green, crisp-crunchy and oh so delicious.)
Make Your Own Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • Remove the stems and slice up 1 lb. of Baby Bella mushrooms.
  • Simmer shrooms in 3-4 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoon fresh garlic.
  • Stir in 3 tablespoons flour.
  • Add 1.5 cups chicken broth + 1.5 cups cream
  • Salt & pepper to taste. (I use extra spicy Mrs. Dash.)
  • Once the sauce is thick and bubbly, stir in those precious beans.
Building Your Masterpiece
  1. Place a can of those yummy French fried onions in the bottom of a casserole.
  2. Pour in the beans and 'shrooms.
  3. Sprinkle another can of yummy French fried onions on top.
  4. Up the fat content a bit more with dollops of butter.
  5. Bake at 375 (F) for 30 minutes.

~ Enjoy!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Oxygen Gardens and Bonsai Tips

 If I live to be 102 (which is highly doubtful, given my reckless ways,) I will never understand why people feel so negatively toward winter. Though, I suppose part of my bliss comes from the good fortune of living far enough south that winters are ~ most often ~ warm, bright, blue bird days.

Even on the chilliest mornings, I step out onto my deck, breath the chill air and feel more alive.

Sure, it's cold. But, the coffee warms my bones. And, those mountains never fail to warm my heart.

I'm not alone..

The quadrapeds love winter, too. Horses, dogs, cats, everybody feels a wee bit frisky, kicking up their heels, at the sight of the freshly fallen snow.

I was soooo delighted to see this little Paper White this morning! I had purchased these bulbs, with big, big plans of squeezing them into the Amaryllis pots. But, lazy is as lazy does. I dumped them on the dining room table, ignored them all last week.

When it came time to finally clean off that dining room table, whaddyaknow, they've all sprouted, growing in the bag. So, I potted them up and introduced them to the herd...

This window is the one and only reason why I purchased this house. One would assume, with a million dollar view, you could do an about face and tour a million dollar home. That is sooooo not the case.

A more accurate assessment would be that there are a million things wrong with my home. Broken this, aging that... though I'm blind to those troubles. Because of this window. An indoor gardener's dream.

I grow lotsa goodies in my sunny window. And, some weird ones, too. Like this Bonsai Schefflera, growing in a lava rock. He's 4 years old next month!

Most homes don't offer a window such as this. And, so, most of my friends lament the fact that they cannot grow everything under the sun. News flash! The sun is not all that necessary.

If you don't have a big sunny window, carefully follow these instructions and pretend that you do:
  1. Buy a grow light.
  2. Plug it in! 
Early morning, out the window ~ My sleepy little town, under the bright Hunter moon.

TIP ~ Moisture: The Key to a Happy Bonsai 
  • Keep your bonsai slightly damp. Mist her in addition to watering. They enjoy the feel of a spring rain. Misting cleans her leaves and helps moisture absorption. 
  • Once every couple of weeks immerse the entire plant, pot and all, in a bowl of water. They love it! 
  • A super slow release (6-40-6) granule fertilizer is ideal. Every other month, dig a tiny hole between the roots and bury one granule.
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Belated GBBD

GBBD = Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, a meme held every month on the 15th day. 

Winter arrived. Oops, no, false alarm. :)

I woke up to a raging blizzard. Was all ready to hunker down for this long, dark season. And, then, the next morning I woke to more sunshine & happiness. Which prompted one last walk in the garden.

Kate tracks & Cat tracks.
 Whenever I stroll around the gardens, I'm accompanied by my BFF, Buddy... photographed, below, doing what he does best: meowing, incessantly.

As if to say: Why? Why can't we move to California? I've heard it's toasty warm out there!

Buddy, our senior citizen: He's been bitching at me for 17 years.
Or, maybe he's announcing to the neighborhood that he's found the Incognito Bad Dog. Who lies in wait.... for the unleashed black dog... new to the neighborhood! And, running free!

Mr. B.
Oh, he's not gonna bite him, or anything of the sort. He hangs out in the garden until the little pup comes running down the lane. Then, he joins him for a romp in the snow.

Note the NEW FLOWER BUD in lower left corner.
Meet the toughest perennial of them all. And, here you thought I was gonna cruise through a bloom day post without a single flower offering...

Scabiosa Pincushion Flowers have shrugged off a month of freezing temperatures and 4 snowstorms.* Still gracing us with flowers and buds!

Other parts of the garden are not fairing as well. Purple Coneflowers are not so purple any more.

Helianthus has seen better days....

Perennial succulent: Hen & Chicks.
A wee baby Hen missing her chicks. (They're under the snow.)

Plus the scraggly remnants of the Heavenly Blue Morning Glories ~ bruised, battered, torn and tattered ~ by early winter's gale force winds.

* Flowers in winter? It's all thanks to this massive boulder. The sun bakes it during the day and it gives off plentiful heat on freezing nights.

Pay a visit to Carol at May Dreams Gardens to meet other gardeners participating in this monthly meme. Happy Bloom Day!

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dendrobium Orchids

Dendrobium Orchid
This is my most favorite house plant ~ a Dendrobium Orchid.

Not to be confused with the Phaleanopsis Orchids you see for sale in most supermarkets, these days. Though, I have a bunch of those beauties, too. ;)

Phalaenopsis (Butterfly) Orchids
The Dendrobium is totally different. More sensitive, kinda thirsty, a super slow bloomer... I waited an entire year to enjoy her second round of flowering.

And, may I just say? She was absolutely worth the effort!

She hangs in my kitchen window, above the sink, stretching her little stems toward the sunlight, on the other side of the curtain.

And, she lives in a little wooden box. Those long thready things, stretching out of the box are her roots.

Every Orchid on the planet requires great drainage. They're heavenly beauties ~ in the wild, they grow high up in the tree canopies, far above the damp, damp ground.

To properly water a Phalaenopsis Orchid ~ soak her roots for 30 minutes once a week.

Be twice as nice to this little cutie. Dendrobiums need more water. She gets a 30 minute soaking twice a week. Which is what she's doing in the picture below... soaking, on my kitchen counter, in a stir fry skillet.

Curious as to the significance of the stir fry skillet? What secret powers does this pan possess?

Well it just so happens.... That was the only clean pan left in the house. :)

  • Dilute 1 tablespoon fertilizer into the water while soaking. Orchid growing mediums are very low nutrient - fertilizer gives them a little boost for re-blooming. 
  • Have you seen that ad campaign claiming all you need to do is put an ice cube on your Orchid to water it? Don't fall for that nonsense.
  • Home Depot orchids don't do so great because their supplier pots their orchids in moss, which keeps the roots too damp. Bark medium is better.
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Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Mellow Month

November? Now, how can that be? Feels more like September. Is this a sign of old age ~ that the months fly by, faster every year? Or, is it a sign of Mother Nature being ultra kind in delaying the end of a most delightful season.

I am loving these autumn days ~ even more so since winter 'arrived' a month ago with blustery winds and too much snow. And, a bit of a panic attack from this little gardener. Seeing as how I hadn't even gotten around to storing the lawn furniture.  I was soooo not ready for that.

And, neither were the trees. They shook off those early snows, hung onto their leaves...

And, here were are!  In the midst of an especially long and lazy Indian Summer.

Megs (horsie) and I have been on the prowl, in search of wildflowers. Not to pick 'em. Just to photograph them. But, we're striking out completely. Too late in the season. 

And, I suppose it's high time I admitted that it's 'too late' for just about everything. Everything I like to do, anyway. Gardening, hiking, horses... all things summer. 

This gal is in desperate need of a new, winter hobby. 

Any suggestions?

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Friday, November 08, 2013

Cover Girls

Check this out! Look close.

Closer.... closer...

Here, let me help you out with a magnifying glass. 'Cause that's what I had to use to find me. ;>)

Yep. That's me! Waaaaay back there in the magnifying glass. Me riding my lovely Appaloosa horse, Sable. My 5 minutes of fame as a cover girl! :)

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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Wordless Wednesdays: Flying High

* The happily cluttered skies, during mass ascension, at the ABQ International Balloon Festival.

For more Wordless Wednesday participants, click here!

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