We live in zone 6a and I have been gardening and cooking for years. This blog is an opportunity for me to share with you my success and those failures that come about on occasion. Plus, I want to hear from all the gardeners and bakers and cooks out there and learn from you. Feel free to share your ideas.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie: Baking With Julia- Hungarian Shortbread

I took major liberties with this recipe by doing the following.

  • I cut the recipe in half
  • I cut the sugar back by 25%
  • I baked it in a 11 by 7 inch glass pan instead of a 8 by 8
  • I did not use rhubarb as outlined in the recipe, but substituted SaraBeth's Strawberry Rhubarb Jam and Goya's Guava Paste. The guava paste gave it more of a Spanish or Puerto Rican slant. I used each filling on half of the shortbread. Thus, ending with 2 different bar cookie filings. 
  • Instead of grating the dough by hand, I rolled it into a roll so that it would fit in the food processor tube and used the grating attachment. However, the dough should be frozen for an hour at least before grating. It came out incredibly fluffy, almost like snow.
  • I pre-baked the bottom crust for about 12 minutes or so and then placed the filling on it.
  • Once baked, I cut this into  36 servings. Tiny, but these are rich.
If you would like the recipe you can go to Lynette's blog at  1smallkitchen and Cher's of The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler. They are the hosts for this recipe and feel free to visit their blog to see their creations.

Would I make this bar cookie again?  Yes.

How easy was it to make? It was a piece of cake. However, I think attempting to grate the dough by hand could be frustrating. Most people found my tip of using the food processor grater the way to go. But remember, make sure that dough is frozen or you will have a mess.

What else do you have to say about this recipe? This recipe has a lot of butter, so I consider this to be a a special occasion bar. It would be great at Christmas.

Have fun viewing the photos.

 I picked the fillings up at Jungle Jim's and Food Fare

  Rolled dough just before freezing

                                                   Guava Paste


      I sliced  the guava paste in about 1/4 inch slices

    The first layer of dough after it was pre-baked

   This is how I divided up the filling to create two different bar cookies.


 The Hungarian Shortbread just after I sifted confectioner sugar on it while it was still hot.

                                                         Sliced bars

A Nursery Can Suck Me Right In

I wanted to stop by Gear's Nursery to pick up a Mortgage Lifter Tomato plant since they were the only place nearby who had them. I never stopped in at Gear's in the Spring because I guess I didn't need to when Delhi Garden Center was up the street from us. Delhi moved--boooo who--but I have found other places such as Rahn's, Natorp's and now Gear's .

No gardener can ever go in and buy just a tomato plant. I walked into their nursery and it was astounding. My jaw dropped and the owner must have thought I had never been in a nursery before. I was just too excited. They have stunning plants and they grow most of their own. That is when I saw it. The Pink Parfait Peony. It is a double peony and I tried to back away, but it kept calling for me. The owner asked if he could help me and that is when we got into the peony conversation. I love peonies. So in the end, you guessed it, I now have a peony to plant. It has 5 blooms that have not opened yet, but I will take a picture of it when it does. Here is an example of the flower. Very pretty.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hardening Off My Plants

Since this next weekend will be my big planting expedition, I have started to harden off my tomatoes, basil, and eggplant today. My tomatoes have blossoms on them already which sort of surprised me.I really hadn't noticed that before.

I looked at the 7 day weather forecast and the highs will be in the 80's with one day in the 90s. Incredible. This is atypical for early May.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Say It With Pictures

Here is the latest from the garden



                                                            Rosemary and Tarragon


                                                                      Mixed Lettuce







Denny McKeown Gardening Talk Radio

Right now I am listening to Denny McKeown's gardening show. on the radio.He gives straight forward advice and can be a hoot to listen too. I have become a convert to radio garden programs for 2 reasons: there are zero gardening shows on TV, and a lot of the radio programs are on podcasts. So I can load them on my I-Pod and listen to them in the car when I am driving to and from work. Unfortunately Denny McKeown is not on a podcast, so I listen to him live on Saturday mornings.

The frost blankets will be coming off today and it looks as if they will no longer be needed for this season. The garden is doing fabulously--amazing. The long term weather report indicates rain on and off for the week, but it really will be warming up: even up to the 80's. Wow.

Going out to the garden and everyone have a great weekend. As promised, pictures coming soon, but it is just too cloudy today with rain to take them.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Frost Alert For Tonight

I just came in from laying row cover over the beds for what I hope is the last frost alert. Everything is doing extremely well and last night's rain gave the garden an extra boost. I can hardly wait to start planting the rest of the garden starting next Friday.

My pick of the day -----more radishes.

I will post some photos soon.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Weather Report-Rain

There is nothing like rain for the garden. I can water the garden with the hose, but the plants just don't respond as they do when it rains. Tonight it has been raining since  6pm and it should continue to do so all night. As far as I am concerned that is perfect.

The weather report for next week looks pretty spectacular and my plan is to plant the tomatoes and the rest of the garden starting next Friday: basil, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, melons, beans. I am sure that I am missing something. But I think you get the general idea.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie:Baking With Julia-Hungarian Shortbread

Next week I will post a detailed post with pictures concerning one of the May recipes  for TWD:BWJ which is Hungarian Shortbread. What I can tell you so far is that it is a heavenly recipe and very rich--can we say lots of butter.  Plus it is easy to make. It is one of those recipes that I would make once a year to share with a crowd., perhaps as a Holiday or Christmas bar.

More to come next week.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Garden Centers

There is a small garden center next to our grocery store--Jungle Jims. I told my husband to go ahead and start the grocery shopping while I stepped into the garden center. On my way in I said to him--I am just going to look. Who am I fooling. What gardener only looks. Well I came out with a Black Krim tomato plant for a $1 and 3 packs of hard to find seeds from Botanical Interest: Endive ( which I use in Italian Wedding Soup), Radicchio and Kale Italian Lacinato. I am saving these seeds to plant in the fall for late fall and winter harvest.

Frankly this little garden center is starting to really cater to the gardeners by carrying the hard to find items. One more new found gem.

Weather-Frost or Freeze

Weather reports are indicating we will have a frost or strong possibility of a freeze. Going out to put the freeze blankets on my raised beds --now. It would be a shame to loose what looks so great now.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Here Are The Responses To "Your Fav Tomato"

Here are the responses so far concerning "what is your favorite tomato?"

Tami at $500 Tomato responded with
I don't eat tomatoes (shocker!) but SM loves them. We're still in the process of discovery but last years Baker Creek German Red Strawberry was a hit with him. I noticed they didn't offer it last year as I need to save the seeds for sure this year.I'm trying several new ones this year and am most excited for the Amish Paste. I hear lots of wonderful things about it on  everybody's blogs. A good paste tomato is hard to find!

Stacy at Allotment Adventures of Plot 58 said

that's a hard choice to make there are SO many... i am growing 6 varietys this year a few new ones but my fav of laxt year would be alice Craig i loved it but my fav changes each year!

As I hear from others I will add their responses on this page of the blog!

Kris at Georgia Home Garden prefers the Roma. He is into making salsa etc

Here is what Jenny had to say at Simple Garden Made Easy:

Oh my. So many choices. I love brandywines - pink, red, black and yellow, Black Krim and Cherokee Purple - they are first to get planted. Then I have Yellow Pear for salad and snacking, Amish Paste and San Marzano for sauces (very meaty and little seed). This year I'm also trying about 20 new varieties to see if I'll like them - Mortgage Lifter, Rainbow, Black Pineapple (Ananas Noire) and Purple Calabash on my "can't wait to try them" list.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Question-Your Favorite Tomato

I have been wondering about the favorite tomato of gardeners. Years ago I would have said Brandywine was my fav.  Now I am not sure I have a favorite.

How about you? Which tomato tastes the best and is not that challenging to grow in your opinion?

Pick Of The Day

Well this is not a bumper crop, but I had a few radishes that needed to come our way and a couple of stalks of asparagus. All will be added to tonight's stir-fry.

Today Is Earth Day And My Day Off

First, I hope all have a great Earth Day today. The other exciting news is that I have the day off today. Yippee. What a joy. I am listening to last week's podcast of the Splendid Table (NPR), which is another one of my joys. I love my podcasts.

The plan for the rest of the day is to of course to do some gardening. Looking out the window at the garden  from the second floor of our home it appears that we will have lettuce very soon. Perhaps this weekend. I hope to get over to Natorp's Garden Center since they have Pine Fines Soil Conditioner on sale. I like to add it into the raised beds.

 My eggplant and basil seedlings were transplanted into larger containers and according to the 25 day weather map, it looks like I will be able to plant them 2 weeks earlier than usual: perhaps May 1 or so. I stopped at Gear's yesterday to see what they had in stock specific to unique tomato plants. The owner said that next Thursday is the day to come in. You have to get their earlier because their tomato plants go fast. They carry unique plants.

Finally, if I am lucky, I can get a pedicure if they have an opening. Well it is sandal weather--have a great day all!!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

I Won The Versatile Blogging Award

I have just won the versatile blogging award from Auntie Treats AKA Amanda. All I can say is wow and what an honor, especially as a rather new blogger. Thanks again Amanda. Through this blog I have been able to come in contact with people from all over the world so that we can share thoughts and ideas. It is a great way to over come some of the challenges as a gardener and a baker/cook.


As Amanda said on her blog--The award is basically a way to share some blog loving with other blogs you admire and help other people to learn about them too.  There are some rules about this award and here they are:
  1. Add the award to your blog 
  2. Thank the blogger who gave it to you
  3. Mention 7 random things about yourself
  4. List the rules
  5. Award to 15 bloggers
  6. Inform each of those 15 by leaving a comment on their blogs or on Facebook
Here are 15 blogs I have discovered and really like. Although It was really hard to choose, because there are so many great blogs.

Suburban Gardeness
The Gardener of Eden
Tea & Cookies
Hartwood Roses
Cortina Creek Farms
Georgia Home Garden
A Chef in the Garden
500 Dollar Tomato
Bacon and Eggs
Annie's Kitchen Garden
Skippy's Vegetable Garden
Tales From the Mountainside
Niki Jabbour - The Year Round Veggie Gardener

Here are 7 things about me.

Of course I love gardening and
Great perfumes
Beautiful stationary because there is nothing like a hand written note
Being at the beach
and my Husband!

Thanks again for the award. What a nice surprise.


Tuesdays With Dorie: Baking With Julia- Lemon Loaf Cake

I found this cake to have a subtle taste of lemon and not overly sweet. As much as I love Starbuck's Lemon Loaf Cake, this loaf is at the other end of the spectrum. It is less sweet and overpowering. You want to have a slice  with coffee or tea. Plus, it was very easy to make. And yes I would make this again. I might add a little lemon juice instead of just the zest. However, you could take liberties by adding a lemon glace, lemon curd or strawberries on the side.

If you are interested in the recipe, the hosts for the month have it posted at the website.
Truc of Treats and Michelle of The Beauty of Life.

Perhaps next time I would be able to use Meyer Lemons from my tree. How fun would that be?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Kale and Weeds

It has been so warm that we have weeds coming up. So I spent  time dealing with them when they are small. You know-a step in time says nine or more.... I also transplanted the kale. This is the first time that I have tried kale. Cute little plants.



                                                       Photo Courtesy of Swallow Tail Gardens            

I also went to Rahn's Greenhouse and could not resist purchasing 2 foxgloves. The photo I took was taken straight down and does not really show off the flowers best features. But it is a beauty, plus deer hate the plant. Can't beat that.

Carrots--The Fooler

All I can say is the carrots that I bemoaned not germinating are now starting to do exactly that. I was just out in the garden and sure enough they are coming through for me. I will try not to complain if I find out thinning is a  challenging chore. What can I say. The life of a gardener. Now I am going back out to plant my kale.

Perfect Weather

It is going to be 84 degrees and sunny today. It rained most of the day yesterday and today should be perfect. I could not ask for more. I am going to grab my cup of coffee and take it all in, and of course do a little gardening.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Another Favorite Gardening Podcast-John Dromgoole

I love listening to John Dromgoole because he is an organic gardener and advisor and he has such a calming voice.  That said, he is a little info about him.

John Dromgoole hosts the longest, continuously running, organic gardening talk show in the United States. He has been on KLBJ AM f 590 for the 25 years and has shared his extensive knowledge on organic gardening with his listeners. His show, Gardening Naturally, takes the non-chemical approach to gardening,

On Saturdays from 9a.m. to 11a.m., listeners call in with their questions about problems with trees, shrubs, lawns, flowers and vegetable gardens. The show on Sunday, from 8a.m. to 10a.m..

If you want to listen on the net or download as a podcast click here

Random Pictures Between The Rain Drops

The knock out rose already has blossoms. This is blooming at least a month early.

Cabbages are doing well

Plus the peas are about eight inches tall.

Radishes have been thinned.

Onions Barely Got Planted

I just got the onion sets in and it started to rain to the point where I had to come in. So no pictures today--perhaps on Sunday. I was able to fertilize a tad, but I really did not complete the job. All in all the garden is looking good, but I did not see any carrots yet.

So now I am listening to Ron Wilson at 550 on podcast. He has a very informative 3 hour gardening program every Saturday.

Onion Sets Go In Today

Today is the day for the onion sets to go in. It is supposed to rain early this afternoon, so I want to get them in this morning after I run my errands.

I re-seeded the carrots last week and I still do not see any germination occurring. I will give it another couple of weeks and if there is zero germination, I will try one more time. I am a tad frustrated with the carrot situation. The cabbages are looking great, along with the peas. I will take pictures later and post.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Favorite Garden Podcasts

Since I really have not been able to find good gardening shows on TV, I wanted to share with you my favorite gardening radio programs that I download on my I-Pod. I listen to these in the car.

 Easy Gardening Mark Viette
 Garden Guys
 In The Garden With Andre Viette
 In The Garden With Ron Wilson
 Paul Parent Garden Club
 You Bet Your Garden

These are just a few!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Great Gardening Shows

Recently I thought what happened to the old gardening shows such as Crockett's Victory Garden that used to be on WGBH out of Boston. I would watch it every Saturday years ago. Tried as I might, I could not find DVDs that I could purchase. The current Victory Garden is ok, but it certainly is not what the original started out as.

Then I recalled this fabulous show called the 3000 Mile Gardener that WGBH showed. It took the book and created a series out of it. I thought wouldn't it be great if they would show re-runs of this. Then my mind wondered to what Leslie Land the author was doing today. I found her fascinating blog that I thought you might be interested in.

Finally the only show that I could find that was an  old world garden type show was from BBC2 that first aired in the late 1980s :Victorian Kitchen Garden. You can watch it on you tube at this link.

What gardening shows do you like?

My First Run In With A Wolf Spider

I came across a very unusual spider who was hidden in the row cover in my raised bed.. I had to look it up and discovered it was a wolf spider. It is supposed to be a fast runner, but this one seemed rather sluggish. However, it was easily 2 inches long.

Wolf Spiders

These hunting spiders are fast runners that will chase their prey. Wolf spiders are hairy and often large, up to 1-3/8 inches long, sometimes confused with tarantulas. Their legs are long and spiny. Many are dark brown.
Wolf spiders may hunt day and night. They usually occur outdoors, but may wander indoors in search of prey. They tend to stay at or near floor level. They typically construct web retreats in sheltered sites.
Females carry their large, globular egg sac attached to spinnerets under the abdomen. Upon hatching, the spiderlings climb onto their mother's back and stay there several days or more before dispersing.
Wolf spiders frequently alarm homeowners because of their large size and rapid movements. Wolf spiders are not aggressive, but may bite if handled.

Compost and Manure

Just came in from spreading compost and cow manure and I need a glass of ice tea. What a work out. Also planted 90 iris bulbs that I found in the garage. I hope they take off. Now time for the ice tea!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Meyer Lemon and Mint

The Meyer Lemon is still coming along well. I plan to set it outdoors mid May and I hope being outdoors will help it grow stronger and larger. Also wanted to share my mint that over wintered in the pot without any assistance from me. However, it was a very mild winter. I love the smell of mint.

                                                                  Baby Meyer Lemons


Jersey Knight Asparagus and Swiss Chard

Just planted more jersey knight asparagus. The asparagus I planted a few years ago will be cut tomorrow to have with our dinner of lamb chops.

Also planted swiss chard and reseeded with spinach which did not come up the first time around. I have never had trouble with spinach before.  Also speaking of trouble, this is the first time I have planted carrots since I was a kid. They did not germinate, so I have reseeded these again. We shall see how this goes!

Friday, April 6, 2012


Have a blessed Easter, and this time of year I also enjoy making a cookie that seems appropriate for the Easter season. I found the recipe for Biscotti al Mais or Cornmeal Cookies at Diary for a Tomato blog. We had instant corneal for polenta in the cupboard and thought I would give it a try in the recipe instead of the corn flour it called for. They turned out great. I left out the ground cloves and cut the cinnamon back to 1 teaspoon. These are adult cookies: not super sweet. I am still getting used to my Canon Rebel DSL, but having fun in the process. Plus, I just bought another lens: telephoto.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Coloring Easter Eggs Naturally

If you have never tried coloring Easter eggs naturally, here is the recipe.

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • Your choice of coloring ingredients (below)
  • Hard boiled eggs
Coloring ingredients
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 cups blueberries, crushed
2 cups roughly chopped raw beets

Put water and your choice of coloring ingredient into a small pot and bring to 
a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine  sieve, get rid of  solids, then stir in vinegar. Set aside to let cool until warm or room temperature. To color eggs, dip completely  in dye, turning often, until desired color. It may take awhile to reach the desired color.

Also consider using onion skins to create yellow eggs, red cabbage for a lovely blue egg, pureed spinach leaves for green, and even grape juice for purple.

For those of you who have tried this, what other fruits, vegetables or spices have you used?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Broccoli Raab Planted

Just planted the broccoli raab transplants and also planted seeds in the raised bed for succession planting. Here is a recipe that we make. It is very easy.

    Sausage with Broccoli Raab and Penne

  • Basil and oregano, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  •  1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil or more if needed
  • 1 pound  ground  sausage
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound penne
  • 1 or 2  garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

1. Saute garlic and onion in the 1/4 cup olive oil until translucent. Then add sausage and saute until lightly brown. Add the basil and oregano. You may want to start out with a 1/2 teaspoon each of the dry version.

2.. Saute broccoli raab in a separate pan with a 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Cook penne according to package directions.

5. In a large serving dish, combine pasta, broccoli rabe and onion-garlic-sausage mixture. Toss well. You may want to drizzle a little olive oil while tossing. Top with grated cheese. Makes about 6 servings.