Friday, November 30, 2007

Paper Angel Ornaments

These are the Paper Angels that the kids in 4-H made. They will be used on our local Angel Tree. Thanks to Amy at Precious Treasures for putting together an example and letting me use her Die cut machine. I got the idea from Vicki's Blog.

The Bather Garden Statue: We named her Myrtle

Look what I won! We placed her in the garden near the pond . The boys are calling here the naked lady statue and the dogs keep barking at her. Other than that I really like her. Thanks Josh for the incredible give away.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cherry Cheesecake Pie

Cherry Cheesecake Pie
From Not Your Average Pie

Serves 12
Active: 15 min/Total: 1 1⁄4 hr

Planning Tip: Can be baked up to 4 days ahead. Refrigerate covered.

1 box (15 oz) refrigerated ready-to-bake pie crusts
1⁄2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 bricks (8 oz each) 1⁄3-less-fat cream cheese (Neufch√Ętel), softened
1 large egg
1⁄2 tsp almond extract
1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling
White from 1 large egg, in a small bowl
1⁄3 cup sliced almonds

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Have ready a 9-in. pie plate.

2. Fit 1 crust into pie plate. Unroll or unfold remaining crust on a cutting board; cut in 1⁄2-in.-wide strips. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate.

3. Mix sugar and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Add cream cheese; beat with mixer on medium speed until smooth. On low speed, beat in egg and extract until just blended.

4. Spread batter evenly in crust; spoon pie filling evenly over top. Beat egg white with a fork until foamy. Brush on pastry strips. Arrange about 8 strips evenly spaced across pie filing. Place 8 more strips diagonally over first strips to form a lattice (discard remaining strips). Trim and press ends to bottom crust. Brush rim with egg white; press on almonds.

5. Bake 50 to 60 minutes until crust is golden brown and cherries bubble. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold.

Per serving: 360 cal, 6 g pro, 40 g car, 0 g fiber, 19 g fat (9 g sat fat), 51 mg chol, 305 mg sod

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Making: Thanksgiving Cards

Nantucket Cranberry Cake

Here is a very easy and festive cake recipe. It is perfect for using fresh cranberries this time of year.

Nantucket Cranberry Cake
Serves 8

This recipe comes from one of my favorite Cook books : Simple Vegetarian Pleasures

Butter for greasing the dish
2 cups cranberries, washed
1/2 cup finely chopped (not ground) walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 1 1/2 quart-capacity pie plate or quiche dish (not with a removable bottom) about 10 inches in diameter.
Arrange the cranberries evenly on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle on the walnuts and sugar.
To make the batter, in a large bowl use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar together until light and somewhat fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla and almond extracts and beat until very smooth and fluffy. Be patient.
Sprinkle in the flour, baking powder, and salt and beat a few seconds. Pour in the milk and beat just until incorporated.
Using a spoon, drop small mounds of batter all over the cranberries. With a narrow metal icing spatula spread the batter around to evenly cover the berries.
Bake 45 minutes, or until the cake springs back when you gently press the center with your finger. (The cake will be a rich golden color.) Cool completely before serving. Place confectioners' sugar in a sieve and dust the top of the cake with it. Cut into wedges and serve.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Getting the Koi Pond ready for winter

Fall Ponding information

The pond is at its healthiest in the fall. The water is the most clear at this time. Give the pond a good vacuuming or cleaning in early fall. Start bringing in ornaments, tropical plants and animals, and filters and pumps for the winter. See winterizing above for more information.

Leaf Nets and Skimmers:
Put a net over the pond if leaves will fall in it. An alternative is a leaf skimmer which are usually only installed on koi ponds (they also suck in small fish and floating plants that non-koi ponds want to have). Leave the net on until all the leaves are off the tree and collected off the ground from the immediate pond area. While some leaves provide cover and food for pond animals, excessive leaves will cause the pond to have an overload of organic material. In the fall, leaves may tint the water brown or yellow from the tannins which also may decrease the pH. In the spring, the leaf litter translates into a massive algal bloom and perhaps dead fish as well as a dirty looking pond. So, if you are not striving for the all natural pond and have deciduous trees, then a leaf net or a skimmer is a must.

Leaf Removal Hint:
We found a great way to get leaves off the huge leaf net on our 1800 gallon pond. Instead of grabbing for them and risking falling in or trying to use a grabber or net to get one or two leaves at a time, we use a wet/dry shop vacuum to suck up leaves off the net and rocks. It saves a lot of time and makes it easy to remove leaves far out on the net.

Fall Tasks:

* Repot overgrown plants
* Stop fertilizing plants.
* Bring in any tropical plants, sensitive fish, etc. that will not survive the winter.
* Remove all tropical plants, dead foliage, and leaves. Clean out the pond. Vacuum clean the bottom.
* Do a good water change and top off the pond as needed.
* Clean out filters as needed. Check them at least weekly.
* Slowly stop feeding fish. Do not feed when the water temperature is under 50 degrees F.
* Put up filter systems, pumps, equipment, ornaments, etc. that are not to be used over winter (remove filters after fish have stopped eating).
* If you use them, put on the leaf net (early fall) and put out the de-icers (late fall).
* Check pond daily for dead fish, leaks, overturned pots, or other problems.

Above information came from this site

November Gardening Chores

November Garden Chores

Fall is a beautiful time of year. Fall is also time to prepare the garden for winter. The following chores should be completed in November.

Modern, bush-type roses (hybrid teas, floribundas, and grandifloras) require protection during the winter months. Iowa's low winter temperatures can severely injure and sometimes kill unprotected roses.

Hilling or mounding soil around the base of each plant is an excellent way to protect bush-type roses. Begin by removing fallen leaves and other debris from around each plant. Removal of diseased plant debris will help reduce disease problems next season. Then, loosely tie the canes together with twine to prevent the canes from being whipped by strong winds. Next, cover the bottom 10 to 12 inches of the rose canes with soil. Place additional material, such as straw or leaves, over the mound of soil. A small amount of soil placed over the straw or leaves should hold these materials in place. Prepare modern roses for winter after plants have been hardened by several nights of temperatures in the low to mid-twenties. Normally, this is early November in northern Iowa, mid-November in central areas, and late November in southern counties.

Strawberries should be mulched in fall to prevent winter injury. Excellent mulching materials include clean, weed-free straw and chopped cornstalks. Apply 3 to 5 inches of material. After settling, the depth of the mulch should be approximately 2 to 4 inches.

Allow the strawberry plants to harden or acclimate to the cool fall temperatures before mulching the bed. In northern Iowa, strawberry plantings are normally mulched in late October to early November. Gardeners in central and southern Iowa should mulch their strawberries in early to mid-November and mid- to late November, respectively.
Vegetable Garden

Finish harvesting root crops, such as beets, carrots, and parsnips. Afterwards, clean and till the garden. Fall clean-up and tillage provides several benefits. Many plant pathogens overwinter in the garden on infected plant debris. Removal and destruction of the diseased plant debris reduces the severity of many diseases. Removal of the plant debris also eliminates hiding places for some insects and helps reduce insect populations. Additionally, a fall-tilled garden dries out and warms up more quickly in the spring, permitting earlier planting of cool-season crops.
Trees and Shrubs

During the winter months, rabbits often gnaw on the bark of many woody plants. Heavy browsing can result in the complete girdling of small trees. Rabbits also may clip-off small stems at snow level. Small trees with smooth, thin bark are most vulnerable to rabbit damage. Apple, pear, crabapple, and serviceberry are frequent targets of rabbits. Other frequently damaged plants include the winged euonymus or burning bush, Japanese barberry, dogwoods, roses, and raspberries.

The best way to prevent rabbit damage to young trees is to place cylinders of hardware cloth around the tree trunks. The hardware cloth cylinder should stand about 1 to 2 inches from the tree trunk and extend several inches above the expected snow depth. The bottom 2 to 3 inches should be buried beneath the soil. Small shrubs, roses, and raspberries can be protected with chicken wire fencing.

For spectacular blooms during the Christmas holidays, pot up an amaryllis bulb in early to mid-November. When planting an amaryllis bulb, select a pot which is approximately 1 to 2 inches wider than the diameter of the bulb. The container may be clay, ceramic or plastic, but should have drainage holes in the bottom. Plant the bulb in good, well-drained potting soil. Place a small amount of potting soil in the bottom of the pot. Center the bulb in the middle of the pot. Then add additional potting soil, firming it around the roots and bulb. When finished potting, the upper one-half of the bulb should remain above the soil surface. Also, leave about one inch between the soil surface and the pot's rim. Then water well and place in a warm (70 to 75°F) location.

After the initial watering, allow the soil to dry somewhat before watering again. Keep the soil moist, but not wet. When growth appears, move the plant to a sunny window and apply a water-soluble fertilizer every 2 to 4 weeks.

During flower stalk elongation, turn the pot each day to keep the flower stalk growing straight. Flower stalks that lean badly may need staking. Flowering usually occurs 4 to 6 weeks after potting.
Garden Tools

Proper care of garden tools and equipment prolongs their lifetime, prevents costly repairs, and improves their performance. In fall, remove caked-on soil from shovels, spades, hoes, and rakes with a wire brush or a stiff putty knife. Wash the tools with a strong stream of water, then dry. Sharpen the blades of hoes, shovels, and spades. Wipe the metal surfaces with an oily rag or spray with WD-40. Sand rough wooden handles, then wipe with linseed oil to prevent drying and cracking. Hang or store the tools in a dry location. Drain water from garden hoses. To prevent kinking, store hoses on reels or coil and place on a flat surface.

Remove grass and other debris from the underside of the lawn mower. Drain and change the oil on mowers with four-cycle engines. Clean the air filter. Check the spark plug and change it if worn. Start the lawn mower and let it run until it is out of gas. Sharpen the mower blade. Finally, store the lawn mower in a dry location.

With the gardening chores completed, it's time to relax and enjoy the upcoming holidays.

This article originally appeared in the 10/8/2004 issue.

Prepared by by Richard Jauron, Department of Horticulture

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