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.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Costco's Dark Chocolate Carmels With Sea Salt

I was at Costco yesterday and a lady was handing out samples of Sanders Dark Chocolate Carmels with Sea Salt. I rarely ever take a sample, but I did this time. They were the best I had ever tasted. Plus they were around $8.50 for the canister. I have purchased similar chocolate carmels for much much more elsewhere and they were not nearly as delicious. They would make a great gift or addition to a cookie tray. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Easy Holiday Treat-Chocolate Bark

Of all of the cookies and candies that I have made, this is the easiest treat I have made over the years. It is chocolate bark and you can get pretty creative with it. I prefer to use Lindt Bittersweet Berne bar. This year it was a challenge to find, but I did track it down. The bar is 10.58 oz and is wrapped in gold foil. Some call it the Lindt Gold Bar.

 I break it up and slowly melt it in a double boiler. I then prepare a half sheet cookie tray by lining it with foil. Next I toast either walnuts or pecans that have been chopped. Once the chocolate has melted, I pour it into the prepared cookie tray and I tip the tray back and forth to evenly distribute the chocolate on the tray. I gently sprinkle the walnuts and pecans on top and then add dried fruit. This year I sprinkled raisins and on part of the tray dried ginger. The final touch was a sprinkle of  sea salt. Salted cashews would be great too.

Pop it into the refrigerator. Once it hardens, I peel the foil away and break it apart. Then store the bark in a metal tin.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Minestrone Soup in the Slow Cooker

If you still have vegetables you need to use up from your garden or even if you do not, consider making The Minestrone Soup from Skinny Taste. I did make some changes . I used 1 teaspoon dried rosemary instead of a sprig. I also used I teaspoon or a tad more of dried basil. I only blended 1 cup of beans instead of the entire can. I then tossed in the rest of the can of whole beans. Also I sautéed 2 large sweet Italian sausages and cut them up into small pieces. I then added the sausages to the entire soup mixture for the six hour time period. What did I leave out? The Parmesan rind and the bay leaf. I did add a couple of tablespoons of a good Parmesan during the slow cooking process from the start. It was fabulous.

Also you can make this in advance and freeze it according to the comments on the Skinny Taste website. It is definitely easy and worth making. I am pretty picky about slow cooker recipes. Many are not that great. What is a favorite slow cooker recipe of yours? Do you use your slow cooker to make dishes for Thanksgiving?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Clean Up

I am starting to clean up the raised beds. I added bags of wholly cow to 2 beds today and they are ready for the garlic cloves which I will plant in November. I will do another bed this week and hopefully will finish up by the first week in October. I love how the freshly prepared beds look. I did leave the basil plants though. They are taking off for a second growth spurt since I harvested my massive basil harvest a few weeks ago.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Wrestling With the Beasts-Roses

We had three large roses at one time planted near the side of the house. Over time two just declined and there was one still growing, but it was not that spectacular. After much research and consulting with experts, I decided to replace the area where the roses were growing with two hydrangea bushes.

I ended up purchasing two Incrediball Hydrangeas. They will get to be up to five feet tall and four feet across. The roses were much taller, but the hydrangeas will be a fine replacement height wise.

However, I had to remove the roses. Two came out fairly easily, but the third was pruned down and I will continue to attempt to remove the stump. See below regarding what I was dealing with. It had to be about twelve feet in height. Believe me it was a beast to try to take out compared to the other two.

I know these do not look like much now, but the flowers are white and can be twelve  inches in diameter. It will probably take almost three years before they take off, but that is fine.

This is what one Incrediball looks like ( photo from Hills Nursery).

Here is another photo from Meadows Nursery.

It will fill in the space nicely. The stems are very sturdy and they will not flop over like the Annabelle.

Another white hydrangea that is new, and has black strong stems is Zebra. I almost bought it.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Monday's Harvest

Well this year the harvest of tomatoes and eggplant has been several weeks early. The tomatoes taste great. I have a tendency to pick the tomatoes early and let then ripen up further in the house. Otherwise the critters will get them, especially squirrels.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Frose Cocktail

The Frose was the hit new summer drink in NYC last year. Well I just got around to making it and it is a wonderful summer refreshment. I took liberties with the Bon Appetite recipe for Frose. After letting the strawberries sit in the hot sugar water for 30 minutes, I tossed the mixture in the blender with the lemon juice and blended. I added the frozen rose that I froze the day before in a 13 x 9 inch pan and whipped everything together for about 10-15 seconds. Poured the mixture into a ziplock freezer bag and tosed it back in the freezer. It freezes for a week. When we want a cocktail we can scoop it from the freezer bag and drink as is or whip it up for 5 seconds in the blender. Delicious.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Basil and Pesto

I harvested 8 cups of basil today and made pesto in my Cuisinart food processor. Some of you may have heard that Cuisinart recalled the chopping blade right before Christmas. It has taken about 6 months to receive my new blade and it worked well. I made 16 servings of pesto. We will use 2 tonight and the rest are freezing in packets in the fridge. I have at least 15 more basil plants to harvest and I hope to make more pesto to freeze.  I should end up with at least 40 servings of pesto to go on pasta. By the way, my garlic harvest has not been nearly as great as last year, which was a banner harvest. Such is gardening.

Friday, June 9, 2017

First Tomato and it Came Early

Below is the first tomato out of the garden. I have never had one this ripe  that could be harvested.
This is a sun gold which is a very small salad tomato. Usually I harvest these around the end of June if I am lucky. Also my garlic is probably going to be harvested early too. Our winter was not really that cold, and we only had a couple of snows which is unusual for southwest Ohio.. Thus, I am hoping my garlic has large heads. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Gardening Update

Well I have my tomatoes waiting more patiently than I am. They need to go into the ground, but the weather has been unseasonably cool. We do not have frost, but tomatoes need to have soil temps at least at 55, and we are at best close to 50. Hopefully by the end of next week I can plant them along with the eggplant.

Monday, May 8, 2017

King Arthur May Baking Challenge -Berry Blitz Torte

Yep it is time again for the monthly Baking Challenge from King Arthur. Although this torte may look difficult, it really is not. I made the filling yesterday and refrigerated it, along with the strawberries, Today I baked the cake. I had never seen a cake batter topped with a meringue batter before. It certainly looks delicious. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

If you are interested in the recipe go to King Arthur Flour by clicking here.

Any type of berry could be used for the filling. Also I did not use the whipped cream that was an optional suggestion to fold into the filling. I cannot imagine adding it, because the filling already tastes like vanilla pudding. Adding whipped cream in my opinion would be too much. The cake is a vanilla base with meringue baked on top of it. Almonds were also added  prior to baking.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

King Arthur April Baking Challenge - Chocolate Babka

This months Baking Challenge from King Arthur is Chocolate Babka. Some of you may remember the Seinfeld episode over the Babka and may wonder if it is really that great. At our house the answer is yes. When we used to travel to NYC  we would always go to Zabars for their Babka and would take home several loaves. I would even order it as Christmas gifts. I love the cinnamon version, but my husband likes chocolate. Well that is what he got today, because the the King Arthur Baking Challenge was Chocolate Babka. I did not include the walnuts because frankly the version we would buy from Zabars did not have that in their loaves. Otherwise I followed the recipe. If you are interested go to King Arthur for their Babka recipe by clicking here.
Hope you enjoy the photos. We certainly enjoyed the Babka this evening.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Latest in The Garden

Yesterday I planted  Sweet Peas and built a trellis for the flowers to climb up. I absolutely love this flower, but it can be a challenge to grow because our cool weather can go from cool to hot very quickly.

I also noticed that the peonies  are coming up.  Some folks do not like them because of the ants that are attracted to them, but they have the most gorgeous flowers. I would love to have a huge arrangement of them in a vase. See photos below of the peonies coming up through the soil.
I also added a photo of a Mohawk Viburnum flower. Pretty soon the Viburnums will be covered with these. By mid May I should be planting vegetables in my raised beds.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

King Arthur Baking Challenge

A couple times a week I receive e-mails from King Arthur and frankly I typically do not read them. However, I came across one titled Baking Challenge.

This blog was initially started when I joined the Tuesday's With Dorie/Baking With Julia ( Child) challenge a few years ago. We were required to post our monthly bakes and preferably provide photos. It really was a lot of fun. Well the recipe for this month at King Arthur was for a Butterflake Herb Loaf, and the loaf is better even the next day. It is unbelievable and easy to make. The recipe makes two loafs and I decided to take liberties with the second loaf and created a Butterflake Sugar and Cinnamon Loaf instead of an herb version. My of my--can we say delicious??

This is what the loaves looked like before baking.

If you would like the recipe with great comments and tips, go to the King Arthur site by clicking here.

This is the Herb Loaf and we will be having it with steak tonight for dinner.

This is the last section of the Cinnamon Loaf. Ninety percent of it has been eaten. So the photo does not really do it justice.

This recipe is truly worth trying.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Amaryllis-Spring is Gone and Snow Flakes Are Here

Yesterday it reached 80 degrees and today we had snow flurries. So much for that marvelously sunny weather we had yesterday. I certainly enjoyed it and i know in a few weeks we will have consistently warm days. As promised below is a photo of my amaryllis that has re bloomed for the second year.
It looks pretty spectacular in person. There are a couple of other blooms that have almost opened. I do not baby these bulbs. I will put them out in their pots on the patio this summer, provide water and fertilizer and hopefully remember to bring them indoors in August so that they will bloom for Christmas.  Directly behind the amaryllis is my Meyer lemon. Yep it has about 10 lemons and I have had this plant for several years. It goes out on the patio in May and I bring it indoors in October.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Spring Is Here- At Least For Today

It is in the 70s today and I believe this has been the warmest winter we have ever had in Southwest Ohio.  The daffodils are starting to bloom in the garden and I cut  a few for the house. The sun is shining and I have cleaned up the raised beds again since the weather is so terrific today. The garlic I planted in November is sprouting and I predict it will most likely be harvested earlier than mid July. Flowers seeds have been ordered and should be arriving next week. Of course I cannot sow those outside for a couple of months. As a side note, one of my carry over amaryllis bulbs is just starting to bloom for its second year. I can often get them to re-bloom, but they have I mind of their own  when that happens even though I follow the directions for getting them to re-bloom at Christmas. I will post a photo once it fully blooms.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

podcast- Spilled Milk

I have fallen in love with a new Podcast-Spilled Milk. I am currently listening to the Christmas Cookie  episode because it is snowing outside. I am going to try one of their recipes. Not sure which one though. Cookies can be so comforting and a little comfort right now could be good.
Spilled Milk fun to listen to, but Matt uses an occasional word ( 4 letter type) that might offend some, but you have been forewarned. Time to have some cookies.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Goal For 2017- No Knead Bread

I came across a link to a site called  breadtopia.com and there is a recipe for no knead bread. The olive and rosemary bread and then cranberry pecan grabbed my attention. This  website is pretty amazing with tutorials and fabulous photos. Plus there is a blog and a forum section. The site even won Saveur Blog  Award for 2016. A pretty amazing achievement for an amateur website I must say. Lots of great info and recipes. Stay tuned for my baking adventure. Which shall it be? Cranberry pecan or olive and rosemary? Ummmm.

Meyer Lemon

I bring our lemon tree or bush in during October and move it back out to the patio in mid May. Currently it has about ten lemons on it. In the next few weeks I will probably harvest a two or three. It takes months for them to ripen to the point of harvest. But they certainly are like sunshine in these winter months. Hope you are having a great New Year so far.