Wednesday, June 27, 2007


These little flowers were started from seed this spring: they are hardy annual impatiens.

This is Rugose Hollyhock started from seed last spring. It has an unusual leave shape compared to the common hollyhock.
Gooseneck loosestrife is full of its white attractive blooms. This plant really spreads.

Cosmos Sulfereous- kenikura are my favorite kind of cosmos. They are so bright and bloom like crazy once they get started and so easy to grow.

Baking: really rich Coffee and Cream Brownies

These brownies were wonderful. Very rich with the filling and the chocolate Ganache on top. I will be making these again. I did not follow the recipe exactly- I was short on powdered sugar and butter for the filling so I expect the original recipe will have quite a bit more coffee flavored filling in the middle. The recipe is from Cookie Maddness

Coffee & Cream Brownies

8 tablespoons butter, cut up (salted)
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or line an 8 inch square metal pan in whatever way you see fit. Today, I used regular foil and sprayed it with flour-added cooking spray.

Place the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir well to distribute heat, and repeat, microwaving at 30 second intervals until chocolate is melted (should take about 1 minute total). Set aside.

In a mixing bowl (I used a 2 qt), beat eggs and sugar. Beat in vanilla. Stir the flour and baking soda together in a separate bowl, then add them to batter. Stir until incorporated. Spread in pan and rap the pan hard against the counter so that air bubbles come to the top.

Bake the brownies for 23-25 minutes or until they look and smell done. Remove from oven and let cool. For fudgier brownies, “quick cool” in a pan of ice water.

When brownies are cool, prepare filling. In a small cup, stir together cream and coffee to dissolve coffee. In a 2 quart (medium) bowl, stir together butter and powdered sugar. Add cream/coffee mixture and stir well, then beat with a mixer until very fluffy. If necessary, add a little more cream. Spread this over the cooled brownies and chill for about half an hour.

Make chocolate topping. Combine the bittersweet chips and whipping cream in microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high for 30 seconds, then stir. If chips are not completely melted, repeat. Spread melted chocolate mixture over coffee mixture. Chill until chocolate is set (doesn’t take long – about 30 minutes). Score into 12-16 brownies.

Cooking from the Garden

What to do with Swiss chard growing in the Garden? I found this recipe calling for swiss chard and decided to try it. It was very good and the boys even enjoyed it. We had this soup for dinner with homemade crackers ( I found the cracker recipe in the Herbfarm cookbook.)


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups chopped peeled carrots
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
10 cups (or more) low-salt chicken or vegetable broth
2/3 cup pearl barley
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
2/3 cup dried lentils

4 cups (packed) coarsely chopped Swiss chard (about 1/2 large bunch)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Heat oil in heavy large nonreactive pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots; sauté until onions are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Mix in cumin; stir 30 seconds. Add 10 cups broth and barley; bring to boil. Reduce heat; partially cover and simmer 25 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with juice and lentils; cover and simmer until barley and lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Add chard to soup; cover and simmer until chard is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in dill. Season soup with salt and pepper. Thin with more broth, if desired.

Makes 10 first-course or 6 main-course servings.

Bon Appétit
Cooking for Health
February 2005 © CondéNet, Inc. All rights reserved.

Herbed Olive Oil Crackers

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup rye flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
5 T olive oil
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup cold water plus more if needed
1/4 cup thinly slivered fresh sage leaves
1/2 tsp course kosher salt

1. dough: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir the flours, 3/4 tsp salt, and the rosemary together in a mixing bowl. Stir in 4 T. of the olive oil, then rub the mixture between your fingers to break up any lumps and work the crumbs into the textureof cornmeal.. Stir in the milk and the water to form a medium-stiff dough. If it is too dry to easily come together into a dough, andd more water 1 at a time.

2. rolling: Line a large cookie sheet or the back of a baking sheet ( about 16x12 inches) with parchement paper. Roll the dough into a rectangle the same size as the pan. Roll it up on the rolling pin and unroll it on the parchment. With a pastry wheel or a pizza cutter, cut the dough into a 6x4 grid for 24 crackers with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle them with the sage leaves and the kosher salt.

3. Baking: Bake the crackers until they are browned around the edges and in spots throughout, 16 to 18 minutes. Slide the crackers onto a wire rack. If the crackers that were baked in the middle of the pan seem softer and less done, return them to the oven for 3 to 5 minutes. Cool the crackers for at least 30 minutes before serving to give them a chance to crisp. Store in a airtight container for up to 1 week.

Baby shower cookies

Monday, June 25, 2007

"Normal day--let me be aware of the treasure you are!"

A new favorite Hosta 'Jewel of the Nile'

HOSTA , hostas, and more Hostas

Hosta Binge- I have added a quite a few new varieties of hostas this year. Not the best photos- looks kind of all green doesn't it?

Daylily Days

The Daylilies are blooming. The common varieteies: orange ditch lilies and (continuously flowering)Stellas and happpy returns are blooming like crazy and some of the more exciting varieties that I have are just opening. The daylilies that make their appearance just once a year always surprise me. I forget what I have until they bloom. This year I am anxious to see one called Chigcago Apache bloom.- I got it last year so this is the first blooms I will see.

Friday, June 22, 2007

What to Discover in the Garden

Cade has been photographing things in the garden. His favorite subject has been the koi. He tries hard to capture the perfect photo.

The Garden is full of new things to discover everyday. Daylilies, lilies, water lilies, roses and many other plants are in bloom.

I love this cheerful plant. It has been blooming for quite a while. I started it from
seed last year. I believe it is rose campion.

Baking: Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies

The recipe comes from a new cookbook- The Silver Palate cook Book 25th anniversary edition.
Everyone enjoyed these giant cookies! (as the picture of the boys shows)

GIANT Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter room temperature
plus extra for greasing the cookie sheet
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. preheat oven to 325 degrees for giant cookies.
Grease a cookie sheet.

2. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well.

3. Sift the dry ingredients together and stir in, mixing thoroghly. Add the chocolate chips to the batter, and form the cookies by portioning the dough with a medium size icecream scoop. Drop the ball onto a greased cookie sheet, wet your hand with water, and SPLAT the dough ball out into a 5-inch round. Repeat with the remaining dough.
4. Bake on the prepared cookie sheet, on the center rack of the oven, for 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the oven while the centers are slightly soft. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to the rack to cool completely. The resulting cookie is spectacular-- a real handful!

"Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best."

Quote by Henry Van Dyke

This arbor is the new entrance to our yard. - another one of Scot's creations made of discarded cedars. A robin has found this a perfect spot to perch and sing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Attracting Hummingbirds

We spotted a gorgeous ruby-throated hummingbird in our garden this week. It has been visiting a patch of blooming delphiniums and Larksur. This has encouraged us to fill our hummmingbird feeder with nectar. I found this recipe for hummingbird food online. The boys and I have a rainy afternoon activity.

How to Make Hummingbird Food

by Jane Lake

Bee balm, honeysuckle, clematis, impatiens, phlox and fuchias are some of the common flowers that will attract hummingbirds to your garden. But hanging a hummingbird feeder where you can easily see it is probably the best way to observe the hummingbirds in action.

There's no need to buy expensive hummingbird nectar - make your own, from this simple hummingbird syrup recipe.

Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

1 part sugar/4 parts water

Boil the water first, then measure and add sugar, at the rate of 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water.

Let cool and store excess in refrigerator until ready to use.

Do not add food coloring, honey (which ferments), or artificial sweetener, which has no nutritional value.

You will need to clean your feeder every few days, with hot water and a mild (10%) bleach solution to inhibit mold. Rinse thoroughly before refilling with water syrup.

The wing beat rate of hummingbirds varies by species, with the common Ruby-Throated Hummingbird averaging a wing beat of about 53 per second, seen by the human eye as a blur. The wings move in a figure eight pattern to produce the gravity-defying hover effect for which hummers are famous. The energy needs of this little bird are amazing - they must feed every 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day, consuming up to two thirds of their body weight in food. An important part of the hummingbird diet is sugar, from flower nectar, tree sap and, of course, backyard feeders.

Hummingbirds cannot smell and depend on their eyesight to seek out flowers and food sources. Inexpensive hummingbird feeders are readily available and will attract the busy little birds without the need for coloring the food - the bright red plastic and easy food source will keep them coming throughout the day. Since hummingbirds are territorial, you may want to hang two feeders - one in the back yard and one in the front, to accomodate as many hummingbirds as you can.

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